In 2016, the nonprofit Everytown for Gun Safety attempted to work with Snapchat to produce gun-violence videos to be featured on the social-media platform in conjunction with National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Except, according to a series of emails uncovered by Mic, it appears Snapchat asked Everytown to pay a fee to ensure National Rifle Association ads wouldn’t be shown with its anti-gun content.
The head of Snap’s political-ad sales team, Rob Saliterman, quoted an advertising fee of “at least $150,000” to Everytown, Mic reports. Meanwhile, the Snap news team was also communicating with Everytown. Except, the news team was telling them they were eager to promote the “nationwide movement to honor all lives cut short by gun violence,” with a potential Live Story on National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Unlike working with Saliterman, partnering with the news team wouldn’t cost Everytown anything. This prompted Saliterman to email Everytown about possible advertising opportunities for the Live News Story, including selling those ad blocks to the NRA (which has a history of working with Snapchat) if Everytown didn’t buy. Which they didn’t, citing their budget. (Ultimately, Everytown would decline both the paid advertising option and the free Live Story and Snapchat would run an Our Story feature entitled “Guns in America” on National Gun Violence Awareness Day without Everytown’s contribution.)
From Saliterman via Mic:
That’s really unfortunate news on your budget, as Snapchat reaches 41% of 18-34 year olds in the U.S. on a daily basis and I don’t believe there’s a more efficient way to reach that audience. To be clear, the story has the potential to be bought by any advertiser, including the NRA, which will enable the advertiser to run three 10-sec video ads within the story.
He also explained that Snapchat’s advertising system works similarly to television. Content and advertising are two independent systems. Publishers sell their content (or give their content, in Everytown’s case) to Snapchat for a set rate, and then Snapchat sells (and profits from) ads run during that content. By this model, which Snapchat introduced in October 2016, Saliterman is completely in the right in telling Everytown that it has no say in which ads run alongside its anti-gun PSAs. But there is something about his not-so-subtle NRA name-drop that feels, well, less in the right. Television-style advertising doesn’t usually mean the content provider is given the option to pay six figures to guarantee safety from ads that might damage its impact.