Snapchat is tiptoeing into the lucrative world of search with a new feature announced on Friday.
The app’s 158 million daily users will soon be able to search for more than 1 million crowd-sourced Stories, a company spokeswoman told Business Insider. Facebook has relentlessly copied Snapchat’s Stories format, which shows photos and videos taken in chronological order that disappear after 24 hours, in recent months.
Here’s how Snapchat’s new search feature works: The company will use machine learning to collect Stories together around certain events, themes or places, like sports games or puppies, from users who willingly submit photos and videos to the app’s “Our Story” feature.
Snapchat’s human editors previously created themed Stories from user-submitted videos, but this is the first time that users can search for crowdsourced Stories they want to watch. Snapchat will continue to have its employees curate Stories as well, a spokeswoman said. A handful of the company’s content editors were laid off last fall.
Becoming a search engine opens up new ad opportunities for Snapchat, which is competing in a fiercely competitive digital ad market dominated by Facebook and Google.
For now, Snapchat isn’t monetizing its search capabilities. No ads will be shown in Stories discovered through search, a spokeswoman said. Last year Snapchat paid $114.5 million for Vurb, an app that let people find recommendations for things to do with friends.
Here’s a video by Snapchat announcing its new search feature: