Snapchat Discover: the pros, cons and predictions for the future

February 3, 2015
Tech News

Snapchat Discover: the pros, cons and predictions for the future

This weekend, Snapchat finally launched their contribution to the world of news media; Snapchat discover. The idea behind this service is to provide a news consumption platform for the young, smartphone generation who, research suggests, rely more on social networking than mainstream media to find their news. HERE is what Sky News found <–.

However, according to Snapchat’s official blog, Snapchat Discover is “not social media”. Instead they claim that it is “technology to accommodate the art” – whereas, until now, the artists have had to create art which accommodates for the technology.

Snapchat have also claimed that this new service combines traditional news with new technology, which it does inasmuch as the media organisations choose the top stories of the day – which differs from the social media model, where the top stories are determined by the highest number of user attention.

Snapchat News

Snapchat’s aim is to make the news palatable for the millennial generation by creating narrative driven news, which is presented in a visually compelling way. This has certainly been achieved; the UX is easy-to-use, addictive and presented in a very digestible, Buzzfeed-esque way.

This ties in with the idea that the news should also be written in a short, compelling way, which is devoid of the complex language and elongated delivery synonymous with traditional news journalism.

As technology has advanced, attention spans have reduced, meaning that the trend is now to provide information in succinct, digestible chunks– in a way websites like Buzzfeed have done to journalism what sliced-bread did to baking.


Snapchat Discover basic model taps into this excellently; you simply swipe right to flick through each story and swipe up to view the full content. In keeping with Snapchat’s original prerogative, the content is deleted and renewed after 24 hours.

Although the basic model of and layout Snapchat Discover lives up to its claims, the content doesn’t quite, which is mainly down to the individual media organisations.

So far, there are only 9 media outlets available on the service (or 10 if you include Snapchat’s own channel). The principle problem is a lack of proper news outlets, with Yahoo, Vice and the Daily Mail being as close to traditional news as it gets – and arguably, you could omit the last one.

Even by its own, impossibly low standards, the Daily Mail’s content is poor; the content narrative is dominated by salacious celebrity news and scandal – you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at Heat Magazine. It is, however, perhaps a good thing that the 13-25 generation won’t have daily exposure to the Daily Mail’s bigoted twist on current affairs. On top of all of this, the full content appears to be lifted directly from the website and hasn’t been created exclusively for the App.

The content delivered by vice was also disappointing; again, the content appeared to be lifted directly from the website and the article length was far too long, moreover one of the videos was almost 20 minutes in length – not ideal for someone on the move. Vice is known for its episode-length documentaries and a meaty articles, so in that respect it is perhaps hardly surprising that Vice have not immediately managed to translate their content to fit this service.

The most impressive of the news-driven services was Yahoo News. Their daily content was introduced and narrated by a News anchor, with each headline being read out as it appeared. However, the disappointment came with the full content – again, the articles were lifted directly from their website.

As expected, the embodiment of how the service should be appeared in Snapchat’s own channel; the content was short and to-to-the point, and came in a variety of different styles – ranging from mini-games to video and animation. The only problem was that it lacked anything of any real interest or substance – it almost seemed like a sample template.

If Snapchat’s own channel was a template, National Geographic and Food Network followed it brilliantly; with videos, a Buzzfeed style top ten and a Recipe of the Day service making them stand out. National Geographic also cleverly played upon user curiosity, with a question headline that required the user to swipe up to reveal the answer. Check out the Snapchat Discover video HERE

One major flaw, which stands out for the moment, is a lack of region and nation-specific news; all of the current content is produced with the North American audience in mind – a lot of the narratives of the day were Superbowl driven, a topic which doesn’t necessarily interest our European audience.

As it develops, Snapchat Discover may well change the way in which we consumer our news, however, for the moment it lacks content and over-simplifies news-consumption, which risks the further dumbing-down the generation rather than providing them with the news in a more palatable format; it’s currently a bit more BBC3 than it should be.

Despite all of this, the problems are largely due to the type of, and lack of, media outlets available just now – meaning that there is room for improvement as more organisations partner with Snapchat to provide content.

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