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Snapchat's Crowded Publisher Platform Is Starting to Feel Like 'The Hunger Games'

Here are a few ways Snapchat can keep its publishing partners happy.

The hunger Games/ Facebook

Snapchat’s publisher platform is getting crowded.

What started as a group of 11 publishers almost a year ago is now up to 17 and counting.* That’s not a lot when compared to the broader Internet, but it’s definitely a lot to fit on one screen within Snapchat, where these publishers are competing for time with the app’s millennial-heavy audience. Make no mistake, publishers are getting competitive. One publisher we spoke with referred to it as “The Hunger Games.”

This crowding and competition is one of the reasons Snapchat opened up deep linking to its publishing partners last week. The move means that publishers can share a link in places outside of Snapchat, like Facebook, Twitter or the publisher’s homepage, to drive traffic back to its publisher section, called Discover.

As the section grows, it’s the kind of publisher-friendly move Snapchat will need to do more of to ensure its partners continue to devote resources to creating content that disappears after just 24 hours.

It’s not the only move that Snapchat might explore. Sources say that, as a relatively new platform, Snapchat is still learning on the fly. That makes it hard to predict what’s coming next, but it’s also clear that few things are ever off the table. Here are a few other ideas the media company can use to keep publishers happy.

Link Away From Snapchat

Snapchat deep linking is a one-way street. Publishers can bring people to the Snapchat app, but can’t lead them back out. It’s relatively easy to understand why publishers would like things to go both ways — driving traffic from Snapchat to their actual websites means even more traffic! And even more traffic means even more revenue!

But it’s also easy to understand why Snapchat hasn’t offered this yet. For starters, it doesn’t want to give people an easy way to leave the app. Linking does just that. It could also pose problems for Snapchat’s advertising efforts. Right now, advertisers are paying for TV-style brand awareness, and that’s tough to measure. Click-through rates are not so tough to measure, and could be risky for Snapchat if it leads to less appealing, click-through-dependent advertising.

 The featured spot in Discover that drives the most traffic.
The featured spot in Discover that drives the most traffic.

Personalize Discover

As it stands, it’s hard for any one publication to stick out on Discover. Publishers are usually featured when they first launch, and getting that pole position creates a noticeable boost in traffic, according to numerous publishers. Being featured means the publisher’s channel appears in the upper left-hand corner of the Discover page and is first in line on the Stories page. If Snapchat allowed users to personalize the arrangement, or place certain channels in the most convenient places within the app, it should help some publishers generate more consistent traffic.

The key is the Stories page, where just five channels are visible without any work from the user. This page is closer to the camera that opens when you launch the app and, more importantly, it’s where much of the traffic for Discover comes from, a source told Re/code back in August. Claiming those first few spots in the order is pretty important.

Snapchat does some of this now. The top line of publishers on the Discover page is personalized based on which channels you viewed in the last seven days. Otherwise, the order is totally random.

Offer a Content Library

There’s an argument to be made that because Discover content disappears after 24 hours, it’s in higher demand. Get it while it’s hot! There’s also an argument to be made that leaving the content up longer — or adding a library of sorts for previous editions — would provide more browsing material for people who don’t visit the app as often. Publishers spend a lot of resources to make Discover content. In some cases, they have entire teams of employees dedicated to the craft. Publishers might be fine if that content had a longer shelf life. It would also mean more ads.

*Update: It’s now at 18 publishing partners. Fusion joined early Monday morning.

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