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Week In Review: Oh Snap! Gen Z’s Favorite Media Company Takes A Wall Street Hit; Turner Launches Some Hot New TV Apps

1. Oh Snap!  Gen Z’s Favorite Media Company Takes A Wall Street Hit

While Snapchat may indeed be the way to reach Gen Z, that specificity has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. While the platform shines with viewers under 25, it has yet to attract many users over 30, or as its users call them, Olds.

This is a problem as Snapchat seems to have reached a saturation point with Gen Z users and is not expanding its base. Add to that the company’s decision to limit its presence to the developed world (the US, Canada and Europe) and investors start to get worried. As in Snap just lost $6 billion worth of value overnight worried.

Why It Matters

Snap executives say that user numbers shouldn’t matter, that it’s the length of time people spend on the platform and the quality of their interactions that matter. Their point is well-taken and the digital industry has long relied on meaningless metrics that are easily gamed.

That said, Snap’s model has long troubled us. A decidedly unscientific sampling of Gen Zers we know and/or are related to reveals a shocking indifference to Snap’s Discover section, the most common reaction being something to the effect of “the what?… oh that?”  Since most users in our sample seem to be on Snapchat to well, you know, chat, they report rarely (if ever) visiting Discover and then “only if I’m really, really bored.”

So it seems that Snapchat has two hurdles to overcome: growing its user base and getting its middle and high school-aged users to start checking out Discover. The former is not as big a challenge as the latter: Discover sits in a different part of the app from chat, and if all you’re doing is chatting, you’re unlikely to go there other than to see a friend’s story. (And with Instagram Stories stealing users away from Snapchat Stories, it’s even less likely.) Even if you’re a die-hard Snappy (we just made that one up), it’s a big jump from “looking at my friend’s story” to “looking at articles with ads embedded in them created for a major media brand popular with my parents.”

While it’s admirable that Snapchat has tried to keep advertising in its own self-contained area, and the content on Discover is carefully curated and of seriously high quality—we are personally big fans—it runs a real danger of getting lost in the shuffle. Snapchat needs to figure out how to attract viewers to Discover without distracting from the main purpose of the app. Older viewers, who don’t see much use for the app otherwise, might be one answer.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a media company or a brand, think about whether you really want to be on Discover and why, and what you want to say to an under 25 audience, many of whom are well under 18.  Make sure you get numbers from Snapchat too, on how many users are viewing your Discover stories and how much time they’re spending there. (Independent verification would be a good move too.)


2. Turner Launches Some Hot New TV Apps

Turner launched new apps for TNT and TBS this week, both of which contain features we highly approve of.

To begin with, there’s quantum viewing—you can pick up on one device right where you left off on another.  There’s “instant-on” access and pre-login “freeviews” for major events so you can watch the first minutes of a show you really want to see without first having to figure out your MVPD login info. And there’s Vizbee, a cool new technology that lets mobile viewers cast their show to the nearest screen without having to install special software.

“Our digital and mobile upgrades reflect TBS & TNT’s renewed commitment to transform traditional TV viewing into an experience that truly redefines what it means to ‘watch TV,'” said Jesse Redniss, chief innovation officer for TBS & TNT (and TV[R]EV co-founder.)  “By including industry-leading casting technology and instant-on previews, as well as an overall premium environment, we’re creating better experiences for both our fans and advertising partners.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Why It Matters

Networks are getting savvier about their mobile and digital apps, offering viewers the sorts of features that MVPDs should be offering. They’re showing viewers what TV could be like if the rest of the industry ever gets its act together and allows its interfaces to join the 21st century. In the meantime Turner is creating brand loyalty and a strong sense that the network “gets it” which should help them gain and retain audiences.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a TV viewer, download the Turner apps and start playing with them. The Vizbee feature is particularly cool.

If you’re a network or (especially an MVPD, watch, learn and do.

If you’re an advertiser, those apps are looking like a good place to try out some of your less traditional units.