Paul Blow for Variety

Snapchat’s content efforts are seeing significant interest from its millennial audience, according to a new survey conducted exclusively for Variety by Defy Media. But messaging to friends remains the app’s top feature.

While CEO Evan Spiegel has wowed the world with eye-popping topline metrics indicating how popular Snapchat is, there’s little visibility into how specific sections like Live Stories and Discover, which feature many media brands, are faring.

Roughly 44% of the 1,117 U.S.-based Snapchat users between the ages of 13-24 surveyed in February who said they had used Live Stories and/or Discover reported doing so on at least a daily basis. That percentage falls to 23% when weighed against all of the survey’s respondents, including those who didn’t report using Live Stories and/or Discover at all.

Daily usage is far higher for Snapchat’s core functionality — messaging and chatting with friends. That’s not unexpected, considering the content sections were added years after Snapchat launched.

New Content Begins to Click

Snapchatters’ attitudes are similar toward Discover and Live Stories, with about three-quarters of those surveyed responding that they “liked” both content areas. Just 14% of those surveyed say they have never seen Discover — 12% for Live Stories. Asked whether they were looking at the sections more often than a year ago, 29% answered in the affirmative on Discover, compared with 24% for Live Stories.

As for whether the advertising levels within the two categories are acceptable, only 12% felt there was too many ads, while just under 50% deemed the number “tolerable.”

Snapchat is still predominantly used for communication between friends, with 71% specifying they “only or mostly” use the platform to chat and snap, with just 5% responding that they “only or mostly” consider it as a place to use Discover, Live or follow celebrities and brands. But 24% say they do both equally.

Types of Users

While 63% of respondents say Snapchat is their primary source for messaging friends, the short-videos category was close behind, at 59%. Meanwhile, 30% say they use Snapchat to get news on the 2016 presidential campaign. The election has been an area of emphasis for Live Stories in recent months.

Star Power

As a go-to destination for information about celebrities, Snapchat isn’t that far behind other leading digital platforms. When asked to identify the platform on which they follow the greatest number of celebrities, 10% of respondents identified Snapchat, just behind YouTube (12%). Instagram is the top destination (25%), followed by Twitter (23%) and Facebook (19%).

Band of Brands

If Snapchat is pleased with the performance of the branded tier of Discover channels, many of those brands — particularly older ones fighting to retain millennial audiences — must be ecstatic. While BuzzFeed was the most popular Discover channel among those surveyed, viewed by 54% of users on a regular basis, older media brands thoroughly outperformed upstarts. Channels for Comedy Central, Food Network, ESPN and People all rank higher among millennials than newer brands like Vice, Tastemade and Refinery29.

One established brand trails the field though: Wall Street Journal finished dead last. It and some of the newer brands are more recent additions to Discover. The news isn’t all bad for the less-viewed Discover channels — and it’s particularly positive for Snapchat: More than half of respondents say they first heard of brands including Mashable, Vox, Tastemade and Fusion on Discover.


Snapchat’s Live Stories: The Future of Media?

Secret Allure

Asked to choose up to three things they liked most about Snapchat, neither Live Stories nor Discover figure high in the rankings. The top vote-getter, cited by nearly half of millennials surveyed, is “creating my own stories.” Graphic add-ons like filters also scored highly, as did another option of which Snapchat management may want to take note if the platform starts to age up: “My parents don’t use it” was picked by 30% of respondents.



Correction: The 44% figure who said they had used Live Stories and/or Discover on at least a daily basis was initially mistakenly reported as a percentage of all the survey’s respondents but it pertained only to the percentage of respondents who had reported using Live Stories and/or Discover at all.

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