Snapchat fact-checks political ads, CEO says

Co-founder Evan Spiegel weighs in on debate over accountability of social networks.

Snapchat: 'We subject all advertising to review, including political advertising'
Snapchat: 'We subject all advertising to review, including political advertising'

Snap co-founder and chief executive Evan Spiegel has said the platform fact-checks all political advertising that runs on its platform, laying bare the contrast in approaches between social networks.

The business has a team dedicated to fact-checking political ads that run on photo-sharing app Snapchat, Spiegel revealed in an interview with CNBC.

"We subject all advertising to review, including political advertising," he said. "And I think what we try to do is create a place for political ads on our platform, especially because we reach so many young people and first-time voters, we want them to be able to engage with the political conversation, but we don’t allow things like misinformation to appear in that advertising."

Snap’s policy puts it in the middle of its two rivals Facebook and Twitter, which have taken opposing approaches to political advertising. Facebook has said it will not fact-check political advertising – a move that has drawn intense criticism – while last month Twitter revealed it would ban political advertising altogether. Twitter detailed the guidelines for how this would be enforced on Friday (15 November).

However, Twitter and Snapchat’s political advertising businesses are significantly smaller than that of Facebook. Twitter only brought in $3m with political ads throughout the 2018 midterm season. According to Open Secrets, the 2020 Democratic candidates have only spent around $200,000 on Snapchat. Facebook estimated that political ads will represent less than 0.5% of its revenue next year, which going off its revenue in the 12 months ending September 2019, could equate to $330m-400m in political ads.

Google, which owns YouTube, has not yet made a public statement on the matter.

Snapchat extends non-skippable video ad format

Snapchat also announced yesterday that it is enabling non-skippable ads to be extended into longer skippable videos.

The ephemeral messaging platform is launching Extended Play Commercials in beta mode, having launched six-second non-skippable ads in September. 

Advertisers can now extend these six-second commercials into longer-duration videos that can be skipped and run up to three minutes.

The new format is Snapchat’s equivalent of YouTube’s TrueView ads. While TrueView ads are often pre-roll, Snapchat’s non-skip ads are mid-roll.

Brands that have been testing the beta so far include Sky owner Comcast.

Snapchat has made the change to increase flexibility for advertisers that, for example, may have only cut 15-second video lengths for ads repurposed for social media from TV or cinema. Some may want to tell a longer story for users who choose to keep watching, as they do on other platforms such as YouTube and Twitter.

Extended Play Commercials are now available in closed beta and whitelisted advertisers can access them in Ads Manager.

A version of this article was first published by Campaign Asia-Pacific

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