Reader Revenue
4 mins read

LBGTQ+ publisher PinkNews triples revenue through Snapchat

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A year after joining Snapchat Discover, PinkNews are making more than half their revenue from being on the app, according to the publisher.

UK-based PinkNews became Snapchat’s official LBGT partner in July 2018 in a move which has seen their monthly revenue triple between 2018 and now. The partnership has sparked “a year of extraordinary growth that positions us well to build a truly scaled-up global media company,” said Chief Executive and Editor Benjamin Cohen in a post on Medium about the lessons they’ve learned from a year on Snapchat.

Snap, which has faced challenges since Facebook adapted its ‘Stories’ format back in 2016, has been quietly surprising publishers of late, with 65% of publishing executives saying that they consider the platform to be a significant revenue driver.

Following the release of its baby and gender swap filters last month, Snapchat has seen a welcome surge of 13 million daily active users, bringing the total number to 203 million people using the app daily. 

When PinkNews first made the decision to launch on Snapchat Discover, they expected it to grow to a few million monthly unique users; a similar size to their existing web audience. 

But within six months of launching – and most notably after moving to daily publishing in December 2018 – the monthly audience grew to between 20-28 million users, with millions more watching across other channels.

Snapchat as a revenue driver

When it comes to revenue, overall monthly revenue for the publisher is triple where they were this time last year, according to Cohen. This is partly down to specific revenue from advertising and services, but also because being on Snapchat has helped the team figure out what works across other platforms as well.

“Snapchat has informed how we tell stories, produce content and sell brand partnerships across all of our other platforms,” wrote Cohen. “Being on Snapchat forced us to hire our own team of animators, and really invest in our original video production.”

This investment is “paying dividends” from revenue elsewhere, and PinkNews is seeing financial success on Twitter and Instagram as a result.

Since being on Snapchat, PinkNews has generated revenues in the seven figures, according to Digiday.

PinkNews also makes money from programmatic ads and creative solutions, on top of ads sold directly and even creating sponsored lenses for brands. But it is their foray into ecommerce which is worth keeping an eye on.

The publisher has recently started selling products directly to their Snapchat users, from pin badges to bamboo sunglasses – all rainbow-themed, of course. 

Some of PinkNews’ products on Snapchat. Image via Medium.

“There is something thrilling about a user who visited PinkNews on Snapchat to learn the latest about James Charles, deciding to swipe up and buy a pair of $40 sunglasses from us on the spur of the moment,” said Cohen.

This is still a new area for PinkNews, but over the last three weeks, it has sold around $10,000 worth of merchandise in ‘swipe up’ spots on Snapchat, according to The Drum. The US is driving a ‘significant chunk’ of this new revenue, which also shows how the UK-based brand is growing to reach new people with the platform as a partner.

Inside PinkNews’ Snapchat success

Cohen credits PinkNews’ runaway success on Snapchat to rapidly evolving attitudes towards sexuality and identity among young people. A 2015 YouGov poll found that 49% of under 24’s defined their sexuality as ‘not completely straight’, which Cohen sees as being a clear sign that “many young people reject the old heteronormative binary labels.”

“This should have been a huge opportunity for PinkNews to grow among this age range,” he wrote. “[But] the problem for us was that these young people did not live on the platform where we were strongest at the time, Facebook. They were on Snapchat.”

Now, three quarters of those who read PinkNews’ content on Snapchat are under 25. This has enabled the publisher to reach a whole new audience who were previously unaware of PinkNews or what they stand for.

Some of the recent PinkNews Snapchat editions. Image via Medium.

Snapchat’s huge audience has also generated vast amounts of data, which in turn helps make decisions. “The fact that billions of our Snaps have been viewed…means that we can look carefully at what has worked…and more importantly what hasn’t worked,” Cohen said. 

Ellen Stewart, PinkNews’ Head of Platforms said that getting results like this on the platform surprised everyone. “We could not have predicted the success we have seen on Snapchat,” she told What’s New in Publishing. “It shows a real need for diverse and intersectional LBGT+ content not only across Snap, but across all platforms.”

“The future looks bright as we apply the learnings we’ve made on Snap to our other owned and operated platforms.”

Stewart added that the publisher will be focusing efforts on expanding to new countries, as well as diversifying their offering further across emerging platforms and products.

PinkNews has also recently started curating user-generated content on Snapchat from users around the world, to coincide with Pride season. ‘PinkNews Stories’ brings together content from Pride festivals around the world, and will be a way for the publisher to deepen its relationship with its audience, as well as bring in diverse global voices.