Snapchat could start paying users for the content they post to the platform, according to patent filings recently made public. These patents were filed in December 2014 and released to the public last month indicating that Snapchat plans to engage algorithms to compile user content into branded stories — and the users will receive compensation. The Los Angeles Times was first to report the patent filings.
Currently, Snapchat produces Live Stories featuring user-generated content curated to highlight specific cities, sports games, concerts and other events. To produce those stories, Snapchat employees comb through tens of thousands of posts. Despite the high man-power cost, they can result in as much as 20 million viewers on a single story. That viewership is just plain massive. Algorithms, as described in the patent filings, would allow the company to do more of this without additional manual labor.
This automatic analysis of user content would focus on the annotations of images, including text and digital stickers. For example, if someone uses “Phillies” in the text laid over an image posted during a live baseball game, they’d gain access to a library of images related to the game. It appears this would work both for mining content and for ad targeting purposes.
The company’s algorithms would also recognize products — say a Coca-Cola bottle in the user’s image — and encourage the user to share the image in a Coca-Cola-branded story. When a user’s content is curated in this way, they could receive compensation, which could be on a flat fee, per view or revenue share basis.
It’s unclear what this would mean to the companies advertising on a platform that charges as much as $250,000 for one-day, according to CNBC‘s sources. Think that’s expensive? Well CNBC says the price of advertising on the platform has actually dropped.
“For example, the first ad product the company offered was a 30-second video ad called a ‘Brand Story,’ which cost a minimum of $750,000,” wrote CNBC. “Today, advertisers say getting inside a ‘Live Story’ runs about $250,000. They added that a ‘takeover’ of a Snapchat Discover publisher channel can be had for $50,000.”
The changes outlined in the patent filings would also enable brands to pay influencers for content in a more official way. For a while now, brands have paid influencers to turn their private accounts into advertisements or to do “takeovers” of the brand’s official account. Coca-Cola has paid Cody Johns, a regular-joe-turned-influencer, to post from their account while attending live events like Nascar races, AdWeek reported.
If Snapchat does change its technology, it could offer more transparency into the amount of money companies are spending on advertising with Snapchat influencers. (NextShark.com says that number can be as much as $100,000 per week. Wow, are you kidding me?)
It could also give Snapchat itself a way to get in on the action. As it stands, the company doesn’t seem to have a way to recoup any of those thousands influencers earn for such things as account takeovers.
Snapchat has been working hard to solidify itself as a venerable advertising platform by making moves such as building a partnership with Neilsen, the go-to for TV advertising metrics, and developing its own native API. The strategies laid out in the company’s patent filings indicate an even stronger future for the platform as an advertising channel than we might have previously predicted.