Cosmo’s Editor Suggests Brands Will Be Able To Sell Products Through Snapchat Discover
Joanna Coles says Hearst's "Sweet" channel on Snapchat Discover will eventually evolve into an e-commerce platform.
Joanna Coles is the editor-in-chief of Hearst magazine Cosmopolitan, which is one of 20 publishers that operate their own channels with Snapchat’s Discover section in the US. She’s also on Snapchat’s board. So she has a better idea than most of what the mobile app has in store for media companies. Apparently, that includes opening up e-commerce stores on Snapchat.
Hearst’s other Snapchat Discover channel, Sweet, which only exists on Snapchat, “will evolve to an e-commerce platform so eventually you will be able to buy from it,” Ms. Coles said on stage at Re/Code’s Code/Media conference in Laguna Niguel, California, on Wednesday.
Ms. Coles didn’t offer details, like when Sweet would start selling stuff on Snapchat, how those sales would work or whether other Discover publishers would be able to add e-commerce to their Snapchat channels. A Snapchat spokeswoman declined to comment on Ms. Cole’s remarks.
If Snapchat does let publishers sell products through their Discover channels, that could make Discover more attractive to publishers, who might want to diversify their revenue beyond advertising, as well as advertisers, who could conceivably pitch publishers on offering their products through some kind of bundled sponsorship deal.
But that’s assuming this actually happens. Snapchat has a spotty history when it comes to commerce. In November 2015, the company began selling “lenses,” or filters that people could overlay atop the photos and videos they post to Snapchat. But two months later, Snapchat reversed course and closed that business. Instead it would offer all lenses to its users for free, including sponsored ones paid for by brands.
It shouldn’t be too surprising that Hearst would be among the first publishers to get its hands on a new Snapchat feature. Not only is Ms. Coles on the company’s board, but Hearst also has a history of jumping at the chance to work with Snapchat. Hearst’s Cosmopolitan was one of the first publications to join Discover when Snapchat launched its version of a publisher portal in January 2015. And according to Ms. Coles, that was a snap decision.
“We made a decision within a day to be on Discover,” Ms. Coles said. The reason that magazine giant jumped at the chance was pretty straightforward. There wasn’t a good enough reason not to do so. The feeling among Ms. Coles and Hearst execs David Carey and Troy Young was “f**k it. If it doesn’t work, who cares,” she said.
A little over a year later, it appears to still be working, considering that Cosmopolitan remains on Discover as some other publishers have been pulled.
But Snapchat isn’t the only distribution avenue that Cosmopolitan is committed to. It’s still very much wedded to its print magazine, and for good reason.
Print magazines “make enormous amounts of money, so that seems to be a legitimate reason to do something,” Ms. Coles said. She added, “I can’t imagine a time we wouldn’t offer a print version of Cosmo.”