×

Media companies are starting to cash in on Snapchat

A job seeker takes a Snapchat photo with Snap representatives during the TechFair LA job fair in Los Angeles, on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A job seeker takes a Snapchat photo with Snap representatives during the TechFair LA job fair in Los Angeles, on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017.

Snapchat is known for its disappearing photos and videos, but it's also become a destination for short-form content from media companies that share stories in its "Discover" section. The content ranges from a mini TV series with three-minute episodes, to slideshows and articles, which users can browse through by tapping their screen.

The content ranges from a mini TV series with three-minute episodes, to slideshows and articles, which users can browse through by tapping their screen.

The ads in the Discover section are for now a small part of the business — one that's potentially very important to other media companies. Snap paid nearly $60 million to its media partners last year, up from less than $10 million in 2015. And Snap manages more than 90 percent of those ad sales itself.

Those Discover spots are coveted. Snap has been growing the list of content partners and now has more than 40, from Buzzfeed and CNN, to Vice, ESPN and Discovery. These brands are looking to Snapchat not just for revenue, but perhaps more important, to get in front of the app's hard-to-reach younger consumers. Users under 25 visit Snapchat more than 20 times and spend more than 30 minutes on the app every day.

Vice, which was a Discover launch partner of Snap's both in the U.S. and in France, tells CNBC the partnership has been a success.

"We've seen tremendous audience and brand engagement, reaching millions of young viewers on the platform every day," said a Vice spokesperson. "As we bring Vice programming into over 80 territories by the end of 2017, Snapchat will be key as we deliver daily news and cultural content to young people wherever they are." Though Vice doesn't disclose a list of advertisers, brands including Toyota, Apple, and GE have been spotted advertising on its Snapchat channel.

ESPN, which was also a launch partner, said it's "very pleased with the relationship from a content and business standpoint." That partnership has expanded over time, adding special content such as a College GameDay program this past college football season on the platform.

BuzzFeed also says it's happy with the partnership: "We love the partnership creatively and financially. The audience on Snapchat is active, engaged and loyal."

Then there's another category of media company on Snapchat — those that don't have an official presence on the Discover platform. They can't share in ad revenue but they can post stories to followers. Clique Media Group's brands — Who What Wear, Byrdie, MyDomaine and Obsessee — while not officially Snap Discover partners, still use the platform to interact with consumers. "We have found high retention and engagement rates on Snap, which have largely come from responses to our stories from viewers," said CMG co-founder Katherine Power.

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is a minority investor in BuzzFeed.