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The Snapchat Monetization Problem

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There’s no doubt that messaging app Snapchat is on the brink of something huge.

The user metrics continue to impress, and the app just recently passed Twitter with 150 million daily active users. Snapchat has also vaulted past Instagram in time spent by users, making it the second-most used app by iPhone users, trailing only Facebook.

With a median user age of 18, Snapchat’s business premise is that it allows marketers to tap into the mysterious Millennial and Gen Z audiences that continue to perplex many brands. However, the jury is out on whether the app is delivering on this promise.

There’s now more than $2.65 billion of venture capital at stake that depends on solving the Snapchat monetization problem.

The Snapchat Monetization Problem

Today’s infographic shows the results from a survey of Snapchat users by NewsCred, a content marketing platform. The data paints a picture of Snapchat as an app that engages users, while whiffing on the branded content it needs to generate revenue.

Snapchat Monetization Problem

Courtesy of: NewsCred

In other words, if Snapchat is counting on advertising as its main monetization driver, it is going to need to get more users engaging with branded content. Then, Snapchat must able to prove that to advertisers through targeting, analytics, and other useful metrics.

Snapchat is Getting Serious

In the first half of 2016, Snapchat raised $1.8 billion in its Series F round at a flat valuation of $16 billion.

This says two things.

First, with an estimated $59 million in revenue in 2015, investors are worried about the Snapchat monetization problem. Otherwise, the company’s valuation would have risen from the previous Series E which took place over a year prior.

Second, this war chest of new capital is going to be used to pounce on revenue opportunities, as well as providing better analytics to advertisers.

To the latter point, Snapchat is now making major moves to deliver on the revenue front. The company recently poached a key ad exec from Facebook. The app also launched a revamped Snapchat Discover portal that allows major publishers like Cosmopolitan or BuzzFeed to get in on the action to share ad revenue. Snapchat is also finally getting serious about metrics, and that’s why the company signed with Nielsen to start measuring the performance of ads like a television network would.

Will Snapchat’s revenues ever measure up to its user growth and marketing promise to advertisers? For now, the Snapchat monetization challenge remains, and investors are divided on the company’s future prospects.

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Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?

A revealing look at consolidation and ownership of news media outlets in the United States. See who owns news media, and where ‘news deserts’ exist.

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who owns U.S. news media outlets

Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?

It’s no secret that news media is a tough industry.

For various reasons — from tech disruption to changing media consumption habits — the U.S. has seen a net loss of 1,800 local newspapers over the past 15 years. As regional newspapers are bundled together, and venture-backed digital media brands expand their portfolios, the end result is a trend towards increased consolidation.

Today’s graphic, created by TitleMax, is a broad look at who owns U.S. news media outlets.

Escaping the News Desert

As outlets battle the duopoly of Google and Facebook for advertising revenue, the local news game has become increasingly difficult.

As a result, news deserts have been springing up all over America:

What happens when times get tough?

One option is to simply go out of business, while another traditional solution is to combine forces through consolidation. While not ideal, the latter option at least provides a potential route to revenue and cost synergies that make it easier to compete in a challenging environment.

Nation of Consolidation

Though the numbers have decreased in recent years, regional news media still reaches millions of people each day.

Below is a look at the top 20 owners of America’s newspapers:

Parent CompaniesTotal PapersExample brands
New Media Investment Group451Patriot Ledger, The Columbus Dispatch, The Providence Journal
Gannett216USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic
Digital First Media158Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post
Adams Publishing Group144The Charlotte Sun, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
CNHI114Niagara Gazette, The Huntsville Item, The Lebanon Reporter
Lee Enterprises100Arizona Daily Sun, St. Louis Post Dispatch
Ogden Newspapers81The Maui News, The Toledo Chronicle, Salem News
Tribune Publishing77Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun
Berkshire Hathaway Media75Buffalo News, Winston-Salem Journal, Omaha World-Herald
Shaw Media71Suburban Life Magazine, Putnam County Record
Boone Newspapers66The Austin Daily Herald, The Charlotte Gazette
Hearst Corp.66San Francisco Chronicle, Seattlepi.com, Houston Chronicle
Paxton Media Group58Daily Corinthian, Connersville News-Examiner
Landmark Media Enterprises55Citrus County Chronicle, The News-Enterprise
Community Media Group51Lafayette Leader, The Wellsboro Gazette
AIM Media50Odessa American, El Nuevo Heraldo
McClatchy49Idaho Statesman, Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee
Advance Publications46The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, The Oregonian, NJ.com
Rust Communications44Cherokee Chronicle Times, Southeast Missourian
News Media Corp.43Cheyenne Minuteman, Brookings Register, Newport News Times

Source

Turnover in this segment of the market has been brisk. In fact, more than half of existing newspapers have changed ownership in the past 15 years, some multiple times. For example, the LA Times is now in the hands of its third owner since 2000, after being purchased by billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.

The industry may be facing another dramatic drop off in ownership diversity as the two largest players, New Media Investment Group and Gannett, are on the path to merging. If shareholders give the thumbs-up during the vote this November, Gannett will have amassed the largest online audience of any American news provider.

The Flying Vs: Vox and Vice

It isn’t just regional papers being swept up in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions — new media is getting into the mix as well.

Vox Media recently inked a deal to acquire New York Media, the firm behind New York Magazine, Vulture, and The Cut.

I think you’re going to see that trend [of consolidation] across the industry. I just hope it’s done for the right reasons. You see too many of these things done for financial engineering.

– Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media

Meanwhile, Vice recently acquired Refinery29 for $400 million, giving it access to a new audience skewed towards millennial women. This match-up seems awkward on the surface, but it allows advertisers to reach a broader cross-section of people within each ad ecosystem.

Both companies announced layoffs in the past year, and this restructuring may help both companies win as they consolidate resources.

The Bottom Line

While news media isn’t quite as consolidated as the broader media ecosystem, it’s certainly trending in that direction. Thousands of American communities that had local newspapers in 2004 now have no news coverage at all, while remaining papers are increasingly becoming units within an umbrella company, with no direct stake in community reporting.

That said, until the issue of monetization is definitively sorted out, consolidation may be the only way to keep the presses from stopping.


About the Graphic

This list of top 100 news sites was compiled using the following criteria:

– The top “digital-native” news outlets by monthly unique visitors (Pew Research and ComScore, excluding sports)
– The top newspapers by average Sunday circulation (Pew Research and Alliance for Audited Media)
– Alexa’s top sites under the category of news (U.S. only, excluding user-generated)

Note: The graphic has been updated to reflect changes in ownership for Refinery29, Gizmodo, and Jezebel.

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How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports

eSports has evolved into a billion dollar industry in just a decade, but how does it fare against traditional sports when it comes to monetization?

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How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports

In just a decade, electronic sports (eSports) has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions of dollars today.

The industry is growing at an explosive rate, and with major tech giants like Amazon and Google vying for a piece of the pie, the future of this industry is an exciting one.

It’s no surprise that eSports is often compared to its predecessor, traditional sports. However, eSports certainly has none of the typical confines of a traditional sport—so how does it compare in terms of audience size, market potential, and revenue?

An Equal Playing Field?

eSports is an umbrella term for competitions played on electronic systems, typically by professional video gamers—with the first competition dating back to 1972.

The 16 to 24-year-old audience has increased by 60% since 2017, fueling the rapid growth of this emerging industry. The global audience is expected to grow to 276 million by 2022, with League of Legends tournaments often boasting a higher viewership than some of the biggest U.S. leagues:

Cumulative Viewership (2017 finals)

  • NFL Super Bowl: 124 million viewers
  • League of Legends: 58 million viewers
  • MLB World Series: 38 million viewers
  • NBA Finals: 32 million viewers
  • NHL Stanley Cup Finals: 11 million viewers

While viewership can surpass that of well-known professional leagues, it doesn’t yet stack up in terms of monetization. That said, this aspect is now increasing enough to be seen as a threat to more traditional leagues.

How Much is eSports Worth?

According to Goldman Sachs, eSports will exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2019, and reach $3 billion by 2022. eSports creates the foundation for an entire ecosystem of opportunities, which include live-streaming, game development, player fanbases, and brand investments for sponsorship and advertising—where 82% of revenue currently comes from.

Although eSports under-indexes on monetization relative to the size of its audience, there is a huge opportunity for it to close the gap, given the predicted 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total eSports revenue between 2017 and 2022.

Getting Attention from the World’s Biggest Players

The success of eSports tournaments is attributed to live-streaming platforms. Amazon’s purchase of leading video-streaming site, Twitch, allowed Amazon to tap into the rapidly growing eSports audience, along with other live-streaming opportunities. Since the acquisition in 2014, the number of average viewers has doubled to 15 million, half of YouTube’s daily viewership.

Google, which lost the bidding war for Twitch, has recently made its own big move into gaming with cloud gaming service Google Stadia. Ultimately, the company hopes it will help keep live-streamers on YouTube instead of competing platforms.

The Future of eSports

Over time, eSports will tap into bigger advertising budgets, and reach national, regional, and global levels, as traditional sports are able to. eSports will also be a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, which could pave the way for full Olympic status.

As a whole, eSports is starting to seriously compete with the big leagues. With a massive worldwide appeal, passionate fans, and billion-dollar revenues, the industry is only beginning to take flight.

The debate however, is not around the battle between eSports and traditional sports. It is around the shift to celebrating a culture that is completely virtual, over one that is physical—which has much bigger implications.

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