Snapchat Political Ad Spending Shows How Groups in the United States and Beyond are Getting Creative

Back in September, Snapchat published their Political and Advocacy Ad’s Library for 2019. The data collected in the library range from how much money was spent on political ads, to who funded the ad spending.

According to CNN, Snapchat was moved to publish its data after the public outcry over insidious disinformation campaigns on competing platforms such as  Facebook and Twitter.

Both Twitter and Facebook have Political Ad Spend Libraries but the quality of the dataset varies across the three websites.

While Twitter merely lists of all political advertisers, Facebook’s Political Ad Spend Library has much more detailed information. Facebook provides a unique webpage for ads related to the 2020 election season, with information on the page, the amount spent, the number of ads in the library, along with geographic data.

In contrast, Snapchat is somewhere in the middle. While not as in-depth as Facebook, it does provide files to allow for an independent analysis of the political ad spending data on the platform.

The top countries for the median number of impressions a political Snapchat received may be surprising for social media users in the U.S.

The fact that the United Arab Emirates and Turkey rank highly in these measures is not surprising however when one looks at Snapchat usage in the Middle East.


As seen by  Snapchat’s own heatmaps of usage,  Snapchat in the Middle East is wildly popular.

It is unsurprising then that governments and political movements would reach out to Snapchat to connect with their base.

From the creative images associated with the Snapchat political campaigns in Turkey, MediaFile discovered the ads were MP4 files for ads related to the Ak Parti, the political party controlled by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

As for MediaFile’s analysis of creative images in the United Arab Emirates, the PNG revealed that advertisements were paid for by the Federal National Council, a part of the government of the United Arab Emirates.

In practice, the usage of Snapchat is more innocuous than expected, because according to Gulf News, the 2019 UAE elections were occurring at the start of October this year, and the advertisements were meant to raise awareness for the election.

However, when looking at total impressions and ad spending, the United States is on top, with many political groups using political ads on Snapchat.

Both an unalerted version and one where the log was taken are displayed below. The latter is used because taking the log makes it easier to see the difference between the two values have.

Many of the political ads for the United States are related to the 2020 election. As written by Open Secrets, a variety of groups have been using Snapchat for political purposes, from the Trump Campaign to ACRONYM. ACRONYM is a dark money slash media corporation focused on progressive media outreach, whether it be by Snapchat or by creating progressive-leaning local news sites.  

As expected, all of the Democratic campaigns from Tom Steyer to Elizabeth Warren have been using Snapchat to spread political ads. From American political campaigns to get-out-the-vote efforts in the United Arab Emirates, a variety of groups have been using Snapchat to spread their various agendas. 

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