Snapchat may be rethinking its stance against brand placements and partnerships in its fledgling original programming, according to people familiar with the company’s video plans.
Snapchat has started discussing the possibility of allowing more promotional content, with brand integrations, in shows being developed for the platform. The advertising tie-ins could be allowed in new shows that Snapchat has been cultivating from media partners like A&E Networks, Hearst, Turner, NBC Universal and others.
“Brands that buy TV shows expect to be able to do some product integrations,” said a media executive, who works closely with Snapchat on content. “That was not on the table at the beginning, but now Snapchat is open to it.”
Snapchat declined to comment for this story.
Until now, Snapchat has taken a hard line against brand integrations, trying to keep commercial interests away from the pure entertainment and editorial portions of the app. It has codified policies against media partners like BuzzFeed and Daily Mail selling branded content deals in their publisher channels.
But the company is under new pressure to ramp up brand interest and revenue.
“They’re a public company hungry for revenue now,” said one top publishing executive, who has worked closely with Snapchat. “Everybody is playing big in video, on all platforms, and they are realizing that integration is a huge part of the value.”
Snapchat has fallen a little short of Wall Street expectations, making less money than predicted last quarter, and it faces relentless pressure from larger rivals like Instagram. Facebook’s photo and video app has copied many of Snapchat’s core features, offering advertisers an alternative, while being open to most any brand activity.
There have been many areas where Snapchat could have gone all-in on the brand and moneymaking potential, but opted for a more user-focused route. It could have made the app more welcoming to brands with organic accounts, letting them amass followers more easily and churn out promotional messages.
Many brands and web celebrities have meanwhile latched onto Instagram, where there are more tools for free self-marketing. Snapchat, meanwhile, has made paying for ads the one surefire way to reach an audience there, and it tries to keep advertising distinct from other forms of content.
Now Snapchat is trying to build a unique lineup of mobile video programming, tapping TV studios and networks to supply fresh takes on shows. The platform would like to eventually have three or four shows a day, and is still working closely with media partners on greenlighting the best ones, people familiar with the process said.