How Snapchat Wants to Win the 2016 Election
Snapchat is getting a lot of attention for its presidential ambitions.
In an effort to both appeal to the youth vote and bolster its events coverage built on a growing volume of video posted by its users, the app recently posted a job opening for a Content Analyst in Politics & News.
The new hire will curate photos and videos for the app’s “Our Story” curated events coverage of the presidential race and other news events. That stories feature has already proven to be a massive success. On average, Snapchat’s Our Stories draws around 20 million people in a 24-hour window, director of partnerships at Snapchat, Ben Schwerin, told Re/code. The three-day story in April about Coachella, the music festival, generated 40 million unique visitors.
Political events might not be draws on that same scale, but Snapchat apparently believes its massive influence with younger Americans could attract millions millennials to engage in the political process at a time when voter turnout is at its lowest levels since World War II. In the 2012 mid-term election, the national turnout rate was 35.9 percent. Of that, only 13 percent were between the ages of 18 and 29.
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Boasting more than 100 million daily users, Snapchat is valued at $16 billion — giving it the reach and the financial clout to become a force in 2016 campaign coverage. About 60 percent of U.S. smartphone users aged between 13 and 24 have used the app, according to The Financial Times. The largest demographic of users is between the ages of 18 and 24 (45 percent), followed by those between 25 and 34 (26 percent).
To capitalize on that user base, Snapchat recently hired former CNN political reporter Peter Hamby to oversee its expanding news team. Snapchat wants to promote content from debates, rallies, appearances and other election events and allow users to follow along. But this isn’t purely an experiment in civic participation. Candidates can pay for political ads to appear on the social media app.
The social media app has an ace up its sleeve to incentivize candidates to purchase ads. The app already has age-gating technology and a form of geographic targeting. Originally put into place to make sure underage kids wouldn’t see alcohol ads, the age gate could be used to reach only voting-age users. The geographic targeting allows Our Stories to only be viewable by people in the same city or area, so politicians could target specific areas, especially ones in a tight race.
Snapchat, best known as the service that allows users to send disappearing photos, claims that ads inserted into “Our Stories” have an advantage over other social media advertisements because they leave more lasting impressions.
If campaigns buy into that and turn to Snapchat as a way to connect with a hard-to-reach demographic, the social media company could be the big winner in the 2016 election.
Chart of the Day: Long Way to Go on Coronavirus Testing
The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
After Spending $2 Billion, Air Force Bails Out on Planned Upgrades of B-2 Bombers
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Big Hurdle for Sanders’ Plan to Cancel Student Debt
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
Number of the Day: $7 Million
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”