Amid news of a dismal third quarter, Snapchat has announced a bold and risky plan to revamp its app in order to bolster its flagging user acquisition rate, revenues, and share prices.
Snapchat reported a mere 178 million daily active users during the September quarter, compared to Instagram’s 800 million.
In an earnings call with investors, CEO Evan Spiegel outlined key aspects of the planned redesign including simplifying the app to make it baby boomer-friendly and deploying an algorithm to create a more personalized Stories feed. The company has yet to announce a timeframe for the rollout of the overhauled Snapchat app.
The hope is that streamlining the app’s interface, which many have found confusing, will draw users of all ages to Snapchat’s platform.
“One thing that we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback. As a result, we are currently redesigning our application to make it easier to use,” Spiegel said. He stated that he was willing to take the risk of undertaking a sweeping redesign of the app, even though it would likely “be disruptive to our business in the short term” and change user behavior in unforeseen ways.
Streamlining Story Playback
Another change Spiegel plans to implement is streamlining the Story playback architecture so that users don’t have to download the entire video file before initiating playback. This should make it easier to start playing a video clip, barring issues with weak signals and spotty service.
Personalized Stories Feed
Spiegel also outlined a plan to use Snapchat’s data trove to power a machine learning algorithm in order to deliver a personalized Stories experience. Currently the Stories feed is simply presented in reverse-chronological order.
“As part of our efforts around Search and Maps, we now index millions of Stories every day, meaning we have the long tail of content necessary to provide a truly personal experience”, Spiegel explained. A more personalized experience would entail delivering more friend-generated content on the feed while supplementing it with “premium video and search-based content” like original shows and news. Spiegel also plans to make the Snap Map more visible and easily accessible from the Stories feed.