Creators made up about a third of the main announcements Snap shared at its developer conference on Thursday, showing just how much courting these internet personalities has taken center stage. At last year’s event, CEO Evan Spiegel and other executives barely mentioned creators, instead focusing on tools like a mini version of apps within Snapchat.
This year, Snap introduced a new standalone app with editing tools to make professional mobile videos, gifting as a form of tips, and a web version of Snap’s short-form video feature Spotlight. Snap executives might be hoping that these tools and the additional way to earn money will overshadow what’s likely to cause some disappointment among influencers: Snapchat no longer is giving away $1 million a day to people using its TikTok competitor Spotlight.
Starting June 1, Snap is moving away from a committed daily amount. Instead, it says it will still be giving away “millions” per month. Snap’s senior vice president of content and partnerships Ben Schwerin told me it was “hard to say” when asked whether Snap would pay out similar amounts monthly as before. He said he thinks the changes and new tools will help it reach a broader group of creators. “We want to provide people multiple ways to make money and be compensated and build their businesses, no matter what stage they are in their career,” he said.
The cash incentive was a major draw for influencers and propelled Spotlight to 125 million monthly users in about six months. More than 250 people earned over $100,000 through the feature, and at least eight are now millionaires, Schwerin said.
On the other hand, the fund wasn’t cheap. As I noted last week when YouTube announced its creator fund, Snap had already awarded around $170 million to creators through its creator fund in late November, likely the most generous of all of these programs designed to pay online influencers to show up. For two quarters in row, Snap’s financial executives had talked about the drag on gross margins. So those costs will likely cool. The question: whether creators will cool to it as well.
Here’s what else is going on...