If taking and sending pointless and disposable pictures isn’t your thing, Snapchat is still trying to get your attention. Today, the company announced the launch of a new feature called Discover, and if all you do is watch this introductory video, you will be clueless as to what, exactly, it is:
What Discover is, though, is basically a way to connect brands with users. Content creators – ranging from ESPN to Comedy Central, from Yahoo to Vice, and more – upload video clips, images, or news stories that are sponsored by various different advertisers. The clips and stories themselves aren’t curated by anyone but the content creators and sponsors themselves, so what you see is what they want you to see – not necessarily what your Snapchat contacts think is the most interesting content.
Discover is interesting because it’s clearly a way for Snapchat to make money, without necessarily getting in between you and your friends and your pictures. And because you can go there as a destination to consume curated content from the likes of CNN and ESPN, you’ll get the “top” stories about sports or news that might be interesting to you, and that you might not have seen otherwise.
On the other hand, by putting the power of content creation solely in the hands of the channels and their brand-name sponsors, it’s difficult to see Discover as anything other than “the commercial” channel on Snapchat. It almost feels like going out of your way to watch infomercials rather than simply stumbling upon them at 1:30 in the morning. Yes, you may see some interesting and even compelling content through Discover – but it will only be because a brand wants you to see it and you’re letting them.
Overall, Discover seems like a smart, relatively non-invasive way for Snapchat to try and generate revenue. I’m still not going to use it, but maybe the Snapchat team has figured out that their users love receiving bits and bytes of content on the go. If so, Snapchat might have a winner with Discover.