Here's what ad agencies are saying about the Snapchat redesign

Key Points
  • Snapchat's new redesign splits friend posts from publisher, company, community and influencer snaps.
  • It will make it harder for advertisers to blend their ads within friend posts, which makes users more likely to notice it.
  • However if the move gets more people to use Snap, it could be good for advertisers overall.
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel
Getty Images

Snapchat's new design is meant to be easier for people to understand and use. But some advertisers are concerned they will have to adapt to the new design, which will separate content posted by friends from publisher and community posts.

"By separating consumer conversation from brand and publisher conversation, we are witnessing the death of organic branded dialogue and the birth of splintered social," said Doug Rozen, chief digital and innovation officer for Omnicom media agency OMD.

"This is analogous to media 30 years ago: a modern-day telephone for conversing with friends on the left and reinvented broadcast television set for published conversation on the right. The challenge is, in digital, it is more blurred by consumers who look to brands as friends."

Separating friends from content

Snap announced details on Wednesday about the upcoming redesign to its flagship app, which will start rolling out to some users later this week.

Currently, swiping right on the camera pulls up everyone's public Snap story, which is a mix of friend, influencer and business content as well as featured content, shows and community stories.

The redesigned app will still open to the camera screen, but when users swipe left they'll see snaps from friends ranked based on new content and how frequently they interact. Swiping right will pull up the Discover page, which features editorial content and shows, sponsored content, community and creator snaps, and other non-friend posts based on user interests.

Snap says it's doing this to help people get a more objective view of the world.

"Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators," the company wrote in a blog post. "While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves. The new Snapchat separates the social from the media."

CEO Evan Spiegel also touched on rival Facebook and Twitter's fake news problems in a blog post on Axios, saying social media "fueled" the issue because content created to be shared doesn't need to be accurate.

"The Snapchat solution is to rely on algorithms based on your interests — not on the interests of 'friends' — and to make sure media companies also profit off the content they produce for our Discover platform," Spiegel wrote. "We think this helps guard against fake news and mindless scrambles for friends or unworthy distractions."

Advertisers just want engagement

Dividing content may make it difficult for companies who are trying to squeeze their snaps between friend posts to get noticed.

However, Aaron Shapiro, the CEO of advertising agency Huge, is bullish on the changes.

First, Shapiro says, Snap told the agency that some advertising will still exist between friend snaps.

Second, if separating the content gets people to use Snap more, it's good news for advertisers, he said.

"The thing our clients care about is they want to be on platforms with lots of engagement," Shapiro said. "The more people use and engage with Snapchat, the more desirable it becomes as an ad platform."

However, Shapiro said the separation doesn't necessarily mean Snapchat will be safer for advertisers concerned about having their ads show up next to inappropriate content.

"User generated content could be inappropriate if advertisers are placed next to that," Shapiro said. "All the platforms have to police their content to make sure it's advertising-friendly."

OMD's Rozen agreed, and said the mix of algorithms and human vetting which Snap is promising is necessary for all social media platforms.

"There is no such thing as 100 percent safe and/or verified exposure in today's digital landscape," Rozen said. "While extreme curation limits the risk, a brand can still run in areas that might be unfit. We must recognize that the only human curation will combat fake news and brand safety, not new and separated user experiences."

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.