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Snapchat Is No Longer Selling Its Original Ad Unit, Brand Stories

Brand Stories are gone -- for now.

Snapchat is making a few tweaks to its six-month-old ad business.

The company has stopped selling Brand Stories, the first type of ad it released last fall, according to multiple people familiar with the move. Brand Stories are the equivalent of sponsored stories, allowing a marketer to share photos and video content with users that aren’t following them; it debuted in October with Universal Studios, which ran a trailer for its upcoming film “Ouija.”

What’s interesting about Snapchat halting Brand Stories is that it wasn’t from a lack of interest — advertisers were still eager to pay Snapchat for the ads, according to these sources. Instead, it appears that the company is going back to the drawing board and may change how the ads look.

A spokesperson confirmed that Brand Stories aren’t currently available and hinted in a statement they may come back in a different form: “We’re always fine tuning to ensure we deliver the best possible experience for our community.”

Snapchat has been busy on the ad front since its advertising business launched six months ago. It built three ad products in that time, but also lost its two top ad executives, COO Emily White and sales boss Mike Randall, who have both departed since the New Year.

Snapchat’s sponsored story on Black Friday
Snapchat’s sponsored story on Black Friday

It’s common for young companies to tinker with things like ads, especially early on, and that may be what’s happening here.

“This move is probably just growing pains,” explained Ben Winkler, chief digital officer at Omnicom’s OMD media group. “Snapchat, like social platforms before it, is making the bumpy transition from startup to big media company. Ad products – and the clients who love them – are often affected by that change.”

Plus, it’s not as though Snapchat is now void of advertising.

The company rolled out Discover in January, a content section of the app with stories and videos from publishers like People and ESPN. Advertisers have been paying as much as $100,000 a day to advertise alongside this content, and sometimes more depending on the publisher.

The company also sells Our Story sponsorships, which are curated montages of pictures and videos from users around a specific live event — like, for example, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In that instance, Macy’s sponsored the montage and spliced in its own content and branding with the user content.

These Our Story curations often receive tens of millions of views in a weekend.

We’ll talk about advertising and more with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel in May when he joins Re/code Co-Executive Editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher onstage at the upcoming Code Conference.

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