Snapchat promotes diversity in shows and news at its first NewFront, and ignores Trump
Snapchat emphasized its young, progressive audience as a point of pride in its inaugural online NewFront presentation on Tuesday. The messaging app showed off a roster of shows and news coverage that it believes speak to the social awakening that is happening across the country.
Kenny Mitchell, Snapchat’s chief marketing officer, pointed to Snapchat Shows like “While Black,” which was produced last year but was recently re-released on the service. It is a 10-part documentary series, which is still timely, dealing with issues like policing in Black communities.
This was Snapchat’s first official NewFront presentation with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which is streaming the event instead of hosting live showcases in New York City. This week, Snapchat, Hulu, Roku, Facebook and YouTube were among the digital video companies presenting online, and many of the companies are addressing the topic of racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Snapchat talked about its generation of 13- to 24-year-olds as agents of change, looking for action. “We’ll do everything we can to ensure this generation is informed and their voices get heard,” Mitchell said.
Black creators were featured prominently, including stars like Will Smith, who also has a Snapchat Show. The topic of racial justice is a sensitive one for social media companies, and they have been vehicles for organizing mass protests—but also sometimes for spreading divisive messages. Snapchat has responded in recent weeks by making statements of support for sweeping societal change.
Snapchat also has made missteps. Last week, on Juneteenth, it had to apologize for an augmented reality Lens that struck the wrong tone. Juneteenth is a day to commemorate the end of slavery in the U.S., and Snapchat’s filter encouraged people to smile to break virtual chains.
In its NewFront, Snapchat also talked about the size of its audience and compared its reach with young people to its biggest rivals. Snapchat says it reaches more 13- to 24-year-olds than Facebook and Instagram. Facebook owns Instagram.
Snapchat also has been going after Twitter among advertisers. “Snapchat has more U.S. daily active users aged 25 and up than Twitter’s entire U.S. monetizable daily active user base across all age groups,” the company said in a statement that coincided with its NewFront.
Snapchat has been competing with Twitter in the area of news. It recently launched a tab in the app called Happening Now, which features real-time information. Snapchat participates in news coverage by elevating publishers that cover current events in its Discover section. Discover is where media partners post daily Stories and Shows.
Snapchat plays up how it monitors Discover so that the news is vetted. Snapchat also discussed in its NewFront how it would have plenty of content related to the 2020 elections. The elections are a hot topic on social media, especially when it comes to President Trump.
Social media sites have been pressured to moderate Trump’s accounts. Facebook has been criticized for its more hands-off approach, while Twitter and Snapchat have penalized him.
In its NewFront, Snapchat noted that it would host political coverage, but when it flashed politicians on the screen, it showed candidate Joe Biden and did not include an image of Trump. Snapchat recently demoted Trump’s account for incendiary messages he made about Floyd protests. Trump no longer is included in Snapchat Discover.
Snapchat’s NewFront wasn’t all about serious subjects, though. The company also promoted new formats for shows that include tie-ins to e-commerce and augmented reality, including a new shopping show, called “The Drop.” Produced by NTWRK, it's a new kind of home-shopping show that will link products to sales. Another new show, called “Fake Up,” produced by Mission Control Media and sponsored by Verizon, uses augmented reality Lenses for viewers to interact with the program.