Snapchat hopes to boost ad spend by connecting businesses with its top independent creators, but it won’t take a cut of deals it helps arrange. Today Snap Inc launches its “Snapchat Storytellers” pilot program that will introduce brands to five of the app’s most popular content makers including Mplatco, Cyrene Q, and Shonduras. They’ll star in ads or provide creative direction to brands with their expertise gleaned from gathering audiences of millions over the past few years in exchange for cash. Top creators can often earn tens of thousands of dollars or more for deals with brands.
The program is late but a smart move for Snapchat, since it needs to educate businesses about how to make great Stories ads. These often require stylish vertical video that’s a big creative jump from the tiny photo, link, and text ads many are accustomed to, or even the pithy landscape videos they’ve learned to make for YouTube or Facebook. If creators can help brands make great looking ads that perform well, those busineses will be more likely to spend a lot more on Snapchat.
That’s critical for the public company which lost $385 million last quarter and missed its revenue estimate by $14 million when it brought in $230 million. With Facebook’s Snapchat Stories clones from Instagram and WhatsApp depressing Snap’s user growth rate to a measely 2.9 percent (its lowest rate ever), the company will have to figure out how squeeze more dollars out of each user it already has.
Meanwhile, if Snap extends the program to more creators, it could be a good way to help them monetize and stay loyal to the platform. YouTube has long offered ad revenue shares and Facebook’s ad breaks let creators insert commercials into their videos for a cut of money. Both are experimenting with subscription patronage and tipping options to help creators earn money. But Snapchat still doesn’t have any of these options. As the social media influencer space matures, many creators are sick of giving away their content for free, and will bring their best work to whatever network helps get them paid.