It's almost inevitable that Snapchat will introduce Ads to its service -somehow-. With an $Billion-Dollar IPO on the way, its biggest challenge is moving beyond an app and becoming a platform with a healthy revenue. I was thinking of Sponsored Snaps, where you'd find in your Snaps feed clearly labeled Snaps and videos that are, well, Ads. The first problem would be what the ROI would be for the companies, since it's not a guarantee that A. Users will tap on them if labeled clearly and B. If they will hold and actually pay attention to the Sponsored Snap. A controversial but effective move would be for the snaps to not require holding once tapped.
Another issue, probably more important, is the impression that Snapchat isn't as private or secure as its users would think, once they think about how Snaps are just showing up on their feed. Again, the clear labeling would help with that, but it would incite conversations of just -how- private or self-destructive your snaps are.
Today, Snapchat announced Stories, a way to recap your day in snaps and videos. They also don't delete after 8-10 seconds (20-something seconds this time). It's an interesting feature that will allow your friends to know what you've been up to, as long as you let them. How they can monetize this is not quite clear yet, but it's exciting to see them redefining social sharing in a way that remains consistent with their core features. I think a key extension of this feature would be sharing of Stories outside of Snapchat through Facebook and Twitter, their main competitors as of today. It was that component that made Instagram the ubiquitous entity it is today.
Stories, while not completely innovative on its own, is very attractive in its current incarnation and Snapchat's branding. It's a blend of an early Facebook with Vine (Instagram Video, etc) that could prove to be very successful, again, if it's well-executed, and sharing (beyond screenshots) is enabled.
-- UPDATED HANDS-ON THOUGHTS--
First, it absolutely -needs- to give the users sharing options outside of Snapchat itself. I understand the 24-hour limit each Story has might make the point of sharing a bit, well, pointless, but the pace of social media today doesn't require a certain post to live longer than a few hours, a day or two -maximum-, so it actually -would- make sense to allow for sharing, in keeping with the rapid pace of sharing on most social media platforms. This, however, would mean that Snapchat has to create a web version, and I'm not sure they have come across a UI for that that would avoid aping Instagram's web interface, especially with the time limit. Maybe an algorithm would take care of auto-generating a link/page that would effectively be discarded within 24 or 48 hrs? I really wouldn't know, I'm no coder or website designer, but I do feel something close to that would be interesting and, again, in tune with Snapchat's whole identity.
Second, there is a quirk to actually creating your story: after selecting -Add to Story-, the interface takes you away from the camera. While it would make sense for the longer term story; snap, add, pocket phone-- it's somewhat annoying if the user is wanting to capture a moment in different ways within a short amount of time. Capturing the snap, being taken away from view (to see the snap being generated and added to a list of snaps in your current Story), and then tapping back to the camera may take away from the in-the-moment feeling Stories, like Vine and Instagram video, actually has. Maybe Snapchat is aiming for a slowing down of moment sharing, which would add some logic to this interface quirk. I doubt it, though. It should have that happening in the background, as quick as possible as to not create lag between shots.
Techcrunch provided some analysis into another move Snapchat may be making: tap-to-purchase. In which a video is followed by a 'Double Tap To Buy" prompt. It's yet another way sponsored posts can populate your feed in a way that doesn't seem sleazy, especially if there's a free perk here and there, and it's always fun when a sponsored -something- gets you something in return for your attention. You can read more about that, here: With An Eye On Revenue, Snapchat “Experiments” With A Click-To-Buy Button
Whatever the future holds for Snapchat, in-app purchases like stickers, sponsored snaps, a more revenue-oriented pivot, I think it's exciting to watch a still-young company shed its unintended sexting tool reputation and mature into more than just an app.