News.com.au is the first Australian media outlet to launch on Snapchat’s news tool Discover, targeting a young audience with curated news stories tailored for mobile.
Snapchat is one of the most popular mobile apps among 18- to 34-year-olds, reaching more than 100 million active users every month.
The Discover tool launched in January with brands including CNN, Daily Mail, Yahoo! and Vice.
News.com.au general manager Julian Delany said Snapchat’s popularity among young mobile consumers provided an opportunity to showcase the site’s content to an additional group beyond its existing audience.
“Snapchat is a very visual platform, so news.com.au’s Discover content will be presented in this way,” he said.
Described as a “full-screen, creative canvas for storytelling”, Discover allows users to swipe through five to 10 stories curated by the news.com.au editorial team, each headed by a top snap from which readers can scroll down to read the full text , then swipe across to the next story as well as animated photos. The content arrives in daily editions.
Mr Delany said that Discover would not drive viewers directly to the news.com.au desktop and mobile websites, but would be a useful tool in bolstering awareness of the outlet.
“Upfront, this is a brand play for news.com.au. It’s not core to our m-site or our desktop,” he said.
“This is a way in which we can connect to a younger audience and a new way for our content to be displayed.”
He said expectations for traffic at this stage were not especially high, but news.com.au was focused on finding out what worked well on Discover, and what worked on the desktop or mobile website.
Editorial direction has so far taken a lean towards quirky, funny and pop culture-centred stories with which the young audience will engage and share, but news.com.au is looking to the longer term.
“If you can introduce a new audience to your content as they grow and mature as a news consumer, you’ve more of a chance to get them to switch to news.com.au in their next stage of life,” Mr Delaney said.
It is a sentiment shared by News Corp Australia’s head of innovation Mark Drasutis.
“I guarantee most Snapchat users aren’t newspaper readers,” he told The Newspaper Works.
He said the foray into Discover fitted within News Corp Australia’s focus on experimenting with different types of content on different platforms.
“It’s the definition of innovation – curating content in new ways for a new type of customer – so it fitted quite nicely for us,” Mr Drasutis said.
“We need to think about the customer at the centre of everything we do…and we’re trying as a business to do a large number of experiments in the marketplace.”
Publishers using Discover still have a fair degree of control over how the content is presented, ensuring it retains the appearance and the tone with which readers are familiar.
“We control the edition, its look and feel, how it operates within the Snapchat platform,” Mr Drasutis said.
He said the media outlet was now working out how best to produce content for Snapchat, focusing on using existing content assets.
Part of the content experience in the news.com.au edition, including animated gifs displaying Oscar fashion in Monday’s edition, was produced using an idea brainstormed at the last News Foundry, News Corp Australia’s “hackathon” innovation event which it holds several times a year. The Matcha app, currently being trialled by The Daily Telegraph, was also a product of News Foundry. The next event is in April.
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