Snapchat hiring journalists to become its own publisher

Not content to rely on major brands for its new media exploration section, Snapchat is also planning on making its own according to a new report by Digiday.

The company will produce high quality video, images, and text for people to view in the Discover tab. Theoretically, it will provide more content for Snapchat’s advertiser partnerships. Furthermore, it will help the company establish itself as a place to consume content, so it doesn’t just have to rely on its partners creating media specifically for Snapchat. As previously reported, the company is working with CNN, Vice, Buzzfeed, and a whole host of others to help them tailor content for its upcoming Discover section.

The company has been snapping up journalists for the endeavor, which explains why long time social reporter Ellis Hamburger left The Verge for Snapchat in November. According to their LinkedIn profiles, blogger Nicole James, videographer Matt Krautstrunk, Dom Smith, and CJ Smith, former MTV producer Greg Wacks, and even animator Kyle Goodrich will be joining him.

I’m curious to see what they create. Snapchat’s disappearing, finger holding format doesn’t naturally lend itself to media consumption. These people will have to get creative if they want Snapchat to become a second screen.

The recent leaked news of a soured Snapchat deal with Vevo, to create its own record label, also makes more sense now. It suggests that the company will look towards creating its own entertainment content in addition to — perhaps — journalistic. Music videos and comedy sketches are likely to be a better fit for the younger crowd then CNN reports.

Snapchat isn’t the only tech company pursuing a platisher (publisher meets platform) approach. Medium has faced criticism for its similar approach, and as Digiday pointed out Tumblr’s former platisher efforts failed spectacularly in 2013.

Will Pinterest prove its worth in 2015?

The next year will be the most important one of Pinterest’s life. Until now, the company has focused on its application and its audience, to the detriment of its coffers. It had the luxury to ignore money because it raised a nosebleed $764 million in venture funding to sustain itself. Like most adventurous startups, the money was raised on an unrealized, untested, uncertain premise: That advertising on a visual inspiration application would be highly lucrative.

Come New Year’s Day, that hypothesis will be put to the test for the first time on a large scale. After endless preparation, Pinterest’s year of reckoning has arrived.

In 2015, any brands will be able to do native advertising on Pinterest by paying to promote pins that appear alongside regular Pinterest content. Companies can use Pinterest’s reservation-based system, paying set prices to make sure their ads appear in people’s feeds. The auction-based system, where advertisers bid against each other, is still in beta.

Pinterest has been beta testing reservation-based promoted pins with a select group of partners since September 2013, moving slowly to make sure it nailed its advertising process and didn’t scare off users. According to Pinterest’s blog post about the wider-scale release, the beta test was hugely successful. Like regular pins, promoted pins are shared an average of 11 times, resulting in additional free impressions for advertisers (they only cough up money for the initial impression). These pins continue to be seen and shared after the advertiser stops paying to promote them.

The quiet social company decided to herald its big advertising news when the least amount of people would see it: Over the holiday break. It broke the story by publishing a blog post that ran at the same time as a New York Times feature on the news.

This is par for the course for Pinterest. The company regularly holds big parties at its office to celebrate the introduction of new product features, but when it comes to its revenue stream it prefers not to raise a fuss.

It’s possible that Pinterest is nervous about its reckoning moment and wants to experiment with advertising outside the prying eyes of the public. It’s hard to get to a $5 billion valuation in Silicon Valley without having brought in a cent of revenue. At this point, the stakes are high for Pinterest’s investors and the path is risky.

In the next twelve months, we’ll learn for the first time whether investors overvalued Pinterest or if the company is worth the war chest of funding it’s sitting on. If it’s the latter, [company]Google[/company] better look out. It has another rival creeping up to compete in the category of search.

Pinterest’s image-heavy application may give it a distinct advertising edge in the visual web.

Say goodbye to text in Grindr. It’s embracing the visual web

The new Grindr is all about that face. The company redesigned its iOS and Android app this month, abolishing text from a person’s first glance profile. If a user wants more information on someone than just their picture, they’ll have to click further to surface the profile summary. The matchmaking app for gay men also introduced a timing feature that tells two matches how long it would take them to walk to one another. It’s a little like Uber’s interface, but for your hookup — the bold new world of on-demand dating.

Despite the fact that it’s a comparably old app in smartphone years, Grindr has held sway over the gay male population since its launch in 2009. It’s self-funded with advertisements and subscriptions, and its biggest challenge is making sure it doesn’t lose its users to a new up-and-comer.

The redesign helps with that mission. By staying one step ahead of mobile dating trends, setting them instead of following them, Grindr hopes to keep its crown. And as Om Malik explored in this thoughtful post, the future of the web is visual. Images are easier and faster for our brain to process, they transcend language barriers, and they tap into our emotional reservoirs. As Om put it, “We are built to process visual data…That’s why the web is increasingly becoming visual.”

Grindr’s new imagery focus strips away any semblance of profile depth, arguably catering to a mobile dater’s more shallow instincts. But Grindr founder Joel Simkhai says he’s just giving the users what they want.

“One of the things we’re big believers in is men are visual creatures,” Simkhai says. “Copy and text are a lot less important. At this stage you’re not that interested in every little thing they’re interested in.”

The picture cues speed up people’s processing time for each profile. It allows users to swipe quickly through their choices, making faster split second decisions.

And speedy selection is, after all, the hallmark of mobile dating. Grindr arguably pioneered the industry, launching years in advance of the more heterosexually inclined Tinder app. When Grindr makes design decisions, it’s worth watching in case the rest of the mobile dating players follow suit.

But Simkhai doesn’t think we’ll see Tinder, Hinge, or other mobile dating apps minimize profile text any time soon. “Our target market is men and their target market is women because that’s what they need to make their app successful,” Simkhai says. “Women prefer it to be a little slower.”

Old Grindr profile (left) New Grindr profile (right)

Old Grindr profile (left) New Grindr profile (right)

iPhone SLR mount is kind of expensive, kind of awesome

Is it wrong that I want this new iPhone 4 SLR mount from Photojojo so badly? The new case/adapter combo that allows you to use either Canon or Nikon SLR lenses with your iPhone 4 to add some professional veneer to your mobile photos.