PinkNews has been on Snapchat for a year and in that short time more than half of the LGBTQ+ publisher's revenue has been generated as a result of being on the app. Its founder predicts first-party sales in shoppable ads will soon become its biggest revenue source.
PinkNews launched on Snapchat Discover in July 2018 and has advanced to a stage where it the app is now its "primary" focus. As well as shows and daily editions, it now curates user-generated content using the new Our Stories feature.
On its Snapchat Editions, it chooses what occupies its 'swipe up' spots whether that is brand partners or commerce units. For the last three weeks it has sold around $10,000 worth of merchandise in these spots, ranging from badges to sunglasses, with T-shirts soon to follow.
Benjamin Cohen, chief executive and editor of the title for 14 years, previously told The Drum that it was courting an entirely new audience and was driving “substantial” income from Snapchat. He now says committing the publisher to Snapchat as its sole LGBT+ content partner was "the most transformative thing that we have ever done".
"Tens of millions of consumers in America who hadn't heard of us a year ago are now engaging with us very frequently," he said. A significant chunk of its buyers hail from San Diego USA, an indication that UK-based PinkNews has monetised an audience it simply didn't have two years ago.
"We are excited by B2C commerce, it may be our biggest source of income in the coming years," Cohen continued.
"We are now evolving our relationship with the user dramatically. I get push notifications on my phone every time there is a sale, it is great that someone came to watch an Edition and in the spur of the moment paid for something. It is a relationship we didn't have. We know now that our users like to buy things."
It will soon launch Snapchat show 'Retold', a six-part series retelling fairytales with an LGBT twist. This will generate interest, and new product opportunities if the characters and stories prove popular enough with Cohen hinting it may venture into print storybooks and character dolls.
"We want to create great content to get people into the funnel and then once they are, we want to sell them products."
As Snapchat this week beat revenue expectations and reported 203 million daily active users (up 8%), PinkNews said that the platform has helped it triple the publishing group's revenue since it launched there.
PinkNews content sees between 20 million and 28 million unique users a month and it approaches 2.5 million subscribers on the app, more than the rest of the platforms put together.
The 'world's most-read LGBTQ+ publisher' has been handed a new lease of life with the move to Snapchat. Cohen said: "It has completely transformed the business. When we started on Snapchat we had eight people, we now have 25. Everyone on that team is working towards Snapchat content in some way."
Through Snapchat, the site can also reach an audience of LGBT advocates who may not necessarily access its web portal. Cohen revealed that its bespoke lenses on Snapchat have been swiped up half a million times. To date, it has worked directly with UK brands but now with the US as its largest audience, and with India looking to overtake the UK in the coming years for the second, it will soon build out its US sales team and court the world's biggest brands.
Publishers like The Guardian, Sky News and Vice are among the UK media brands delivering 'Shows' on Snapchat, all in pursuit of younger audiences.
Last year, the newsbrand acquired LGBT ad agency Othervox for an undisclosed sum as it looked to scale up its ad offering and directly court brands keen to speak to its community. Straight allies were a new audience the publisher could identify and deliver ads to.
PinkNews picked up Specialist News Site of the Year at The Drum Online Media Awards 2019.