Vox brings explainer journalism to Snapchat

Surely any millennial focused publisher would want a slice of the action.

Well, the platform is Snapchat, and getting membership to what is the most exclusive club in online media isn’t easy.

The growth of Discover

When Snapchat launched its Discover editorial content program earlier in 2015 it took on just 16 media partners. That is not to say that publishers aren’t using the format for other interesting approaches like the Washington Post’s here. It is just that in spite of the negativity around Discover in its early days, and questions about whether youngsters would consume this content, it turns out that they love it.

From Snapchat’s perspective, its exclusivity is one of its main draws. Flood Discover with media companies and its devotees might not be so keen on the new channels while the existing publishers might not be able to chase those sky high ad rates.

The latest publisher to sneak behind the Snapchat velvet curtain is explainer journalism specialist Vox. Its arrival brings the number of publishers on Discover to 17. Though it should be noted that Snapchat isn’t averse to pruning a channel or two as Yahoo and Warner Music discovered.

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So how is Vox, a serious news channel that takes its readers behind the story to explore its background, going to fare alongside more traditional Snapchat fare such as BuzzFeed’s listicles and Daily Mail celebrity exclusives?

Re-inventing Snapchat cards

Well, the channel only went live on this week, but it is fascinating to see how it has approached the format so far. According to its blog post on the topic Vox has a team of three people including a journalist and a video graphics specialist who create bespoke content for the platform each day. 

So far the topics have been fairly light in their nature, but visually very arresting. So for example on Thanksgiving Day Vox ran a story about Franklin D Roosevelt’s decision to ensure that the day was roughly at the same time – the fourth Thursday in November – each year. The series of cards (upright pages which mix text, images and video) kicks off by pointing out (just in case the millennials weren’t aware) who FDR was.

It is quirky, interesting and informative and very different from the more upfront content of say, the Mail (videos, aggressive GIFs linking to standard showbiz stories) or Sky News (fast roundup of the day’s stories).

Snapchat offers publishers a toolbox of images, video, charts, and texts which user can swipe through at speed. Vox’s approach to integrate all these into one piece of explainer journalism is a breakthrough on the platform and it will be interesting to see if other publishers follow suit.

Vox Media has other brands which could potentially follow the parent website onto the site – most notably its influential tech site The Verge. There is very little tech content on Discover at the moment. The potential for tech based video, explainer reviews and more in a number of formats is huge. And the advertising dollars are sure to follow. 

More like this

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How publishers use Snapchat outside the Discover feature

Snapchat rethinks content discovery with Story Explorer

Snapchat finally enables publishers to ‘deep link’ to their Discover content

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