When Snapchat first rolled out its redesigned app to a test group in January, it was met with an immediate backlash. The user group begged Snapchat for a way to uninstall the new version. Later, when that version was released worldwide, over half a million people signed a petition demanding to get the old app back.
It was heralded as a drastic departure from previous designs and whilst it was supposed to make the app simpler to use, a lot of people found it to be a confusing mess.
Since the app was redesigned, publishers say numbers have been all over the place — so all over the place, in fact, that Snap has privately invited publishers on both U.S. coasts to attend day-long summits this month in LA and NYC to (hopefully) sort things out.
“Traffic has plummeted since the update,” one source told select/all. “I’m sure it’s different brand-by-brand, but we’re seeing way lower numbers.” They said that the exact fluctuation varies by edition — whether it’s daily or weekly content on the platform — but the source said that, in general, views have dropped by “more than half.”
A source at a different publication said things were similarly turned upside down for their production team when Snapchat changed its app: “All of our numbers just went haywire. Our unique views skyrocketed, but time-spent numbers sank.”
Some sources are trying to remain bullish that Snapchat will overcome its recent problems. “This just seems like growing pains that many social-media platforms deal with,” another told select/all. “I still believe that Snapchat is one of the best emerging platforms if you’re looking to reach a highly engaged, new audience.”
Others aren’t so sure. As someone said a little more bluntly. “As far as job security, there’s a reason Snapchat is nowhere in my title.”
Whatever the immediate future it’s clear that Snapchat threw a spanner in its own engine. In a bid to make its UI easier, it did neither and simply alienated its existing user base. Once again it re-confirms the prevailing view that for publishers to rely on a single social media platform for traffic is foolhardy at best, negligent at worst.
It comes at a time when Snapchat is losing money, heaps of it, since going public. In 2016, Snapchat’s net loss was $514.6 million. Last year’s third-quarter net losses alone rang in at $443.2 million. Ouch.
Publishers are also having trouble communicating with the platform. Many have been affected directly by Snapchat’s recent string of layoffs, with 100 people in its sales department the latest to go (the third round of layoffs for the company this year). Snapchat Discover reps are also reportedly thin on the ground as they firefight in other areas of the business, adding to the problems publishers face when dealing with the platform.
select/all: Publishers worry about the future of Snapchat Discover (April 2018)
Recode: Snapchat’s redesign is baffling publishers (March 2018)
select/all: You can tell Snapchat is in trouble because it is redesigning its app (Nov 2017)
Variety: Snapchat IPO by the numbers (Feb 2017)