Snapchat's pitch to big brands has been the same for a while — the opportunity not just to reach its coveted, young audience but to also boost viewership on other platforms.
New data shows that Snapchat's claims could be true, though the situation opens up a traditionally thorny issue for marketers around causation and correlation.
The Nielsen-commissioned data, released by Snap and first reported by Axios, shows that media companies that partnered on Snapchat's Discover platform also saw a 16 percent increase in TV "reach" (if they have a TV channel). Publishers without a Snapchat Discover channel saw a 5 percent decline in "reach" — which is something like average monthly viewers.
Could it be that Snapchat users are more likely to be watching those channels already? Maybe. But Snapchat would rather lean toward the narrative that its platform serves as something of a marketing opportunity that helps brands elsewhere.
Snapchat's magic also reaches beyond TV, according to Nielsen. For Discover partners on desktop, Snapchat supported a 20 percent increase in average monthly reach. The average monthly desktop audience had decreased by 1 percent if you compare the first six months of the Snapchat partnership to the prior six months.
What Snapchat is trying to show is that it's not simply pulling eyes away from TV or away from mobile websites. It's finding a way to support the growth of brands across their networks. Becoming a Snapchat partner, it seems, creates success across devices.
IMAGE: SNAP INC.
Obviously, you can't say Snapchat is everything for these brands and the growth they experienced over that six months period, as Nielsen confirmed.
"It's not necessarily a causation story. Causation is a very loaded meaning in the industry, but it is like a correlation approach," said Ronjan Sikdar, Nielsen's VP of client consulting.
The methodology for Nielsen involved analyzing Snapchat users and non-Snapchat users, ages 18 to 34, from July 2014 to September 2016.
Nielsen studied how these Snapchat users interacted with 15 Discover partners by using its fancy technology called Nielsen Total Media Fusion, including the Nielsen Online Panel for desktop, the Nielsen Electronic Mobile Meter Panel for mobile and the Nielsen People Meter for TV measurement.
Nielsen and Snap declined to disclose the names of the partners. It did include media companies that have a presence on TV, digital and/or mobile. It also declined to reveal more information about the users surveyed, but said their usage varied.
"Why the story is so interesting is it wasn’t a filtered group of heavy Snapchat user. It was anyone who's used Discover," Sikdar said.
Snapchat also boosted reach of Discover partner's mobile audience, with a 23 percent increase over the six months prior and only a 4 percent increase in the six months prior to the partnership, according to the Nielsen study.
For Snap, this study provides evidence to their big strategy that they are one of the most publisher-friendly platforms (quite unlike Facebook). The Discover network is rather exclusive, with about 60 partners on it, versus being a free-for-all, like on Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Snap isn't just about creating a new mobile TV but about growing brands, no matter what platform they choose to be on. Snap's Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan discussed its future in TV-like content during Advertising Week last year. His presentation included a video of NBC's new exclusive content from The Voice and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
"Just like television," Khan said after a clip aired.
Beyond digital media partners like Mashable, Snap works many major TV networks, including NBC, ESPN, Turner, ABC, BBC, A+E Networks, Discovery, VICE, MGM Television and Vertical Networks. Many of these partners have been locked down in the last year.