Five Things We Learned from Snapchat’s Rob Saliterman

Mike Shannon    Vianovo Snapchat

Recently, Vianovo hosted Snapchat’s Rob Saliterman, Head of Political Advertising, for a talk on "The Rise of the Social Candidate – the Race for the White House in an age of Snaps, Selfies and Emoticons." Prior to joining Snapchat, Rob held a similar role at Google and also worked at White House and on the 2004 presidential race. More than 100 leaders from around Austin joined us at the Headliner’s Club to hear my conversation with Rob. Here are five interesting things we learned:

1. Snapchat allows you to have a conversation…in pictures and video. And like words in a conversation, Snaps are ephemeral.

The best way to think about Snapchat is that it’s a messaging platform that gives you the ability to talk with pictures, explained Rob. 

2. Snapchat’s Live Stories have massive audiences – for example, more 18-24 year olds watched the Live Story on the first Republican debate than watched it on Fox News.

With Live Stories, Snapchat puts a geofence around a specific area where an event is taking place, or around a city, or around a college campus, and then people who are within that area have the ability to upload content to that story, said Rob. Then someone at Snapchat looks at that content and decides what to include in that Live Story. There were more people ages 18-24 who watched the Snapchat Live Story on the first Republican debate than people ages 18-24 who watched the debate live on Fox News.

3. Vertical video is growing rapidly and Snapchat is at the center of that trend. 

According to Mary Meeker, vertical video now accounts for 29% of viewing. Rob explained that this is because most people hold their phone vertically and don’t want to switch to horizontal when watching or shooting a video. As a result, all ads on Snapchat need to be produced vertically. So, as more and more content is consumed on mobile devices, creating content that is vertical is going to become more and more important.

4. With Snapchat, presidential campaigns and their supporters can be videographers and photographers and instantly distribute stories, giving candidates more control of their message.

The way that Snapchat really changes things going forward for 2016 is the ability for campaigns and individuals to record pieces of video content on their phones, upload them, and then have them distributed almost instantly. Candidates have more control over their message now because of digital and a lot more opportunities to immediately get that message directly to people because of digital than they previously did before.

5. Through Snapchat, candidates can reach potential voters who don’t closely follow politics through traditional media.

With the changing media landscape, it’s become harder to reach voters through traditional media like TV, radio and print. Snapchat provides an opportunity for candidates to connect with those voters and complement what their campaigns are doing on TV and through other digital channels.