Digital Advertising

Case Study: Snapchat Ads in Elections

On the eve of the 2018 Midterms, we faced a unique challenge: increase our clients’ engagement and voter turnout, without breaking the bank and wasting money.

We knew we needed a strategy that would reach new people and build name recognition — and do so quickly. After comparing other social ad options, we turned to Snapchat. Snapchat ads helped distribute relevant information in a cost-efficient manner and yielded positive engagement that contributed to candidates’ votes.


The most significant challenge we faced with our campaigns in the final days was gaining general awareness for candidates, specifically among young voters.

Voters must know who a candidate is before they fall into the research and consideration stage of the marketing funnel, and far before they decide to vote for them.

Before choosing Snapchat, our media buying team ran ads on every other major social platform: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google Display Ads. We also considered advertising on news sites for local papers within specific candidates’ states, but ultimately decided against this route because of overall costs and limited targeting options.

Snapchat offered location and demographic targeting with inexpensive results.

Snapchat also allowed us to appear on screen most frequently for the lowest price compared to any other platform we used. On average, Snapchat ads cost $10.00 less per thousand impressions than Facebook. 

The reason for these price differences is simple. Because Snapchat is relatively new to the advertising space, its ad auctions are less competitive than the ad space on well-established markets like Facebook and similar platforms. Therefore, impressions and traffic come at a much lower price, providing our ad spend more results than possible on the other platforms.

More importantly, most candidates focused their digital ad budgets on the older, more established digital networks like Facebook and search.

Connecting with Millennials

Creative played a significant role in the success of our clients’ ads. Our team knows people ages 18 to 34 are at the frontline of political change and put serious effort into getting their attention and engaging in a way that would ring as valuable to this specific target audience. With a large percent of Snapchat users falling within the millennial demographic, and an estimated 80% of Snapchat users eligible to vote, we chose creative that was interactive, clever, and to the point.

With one of our clients, in particular, we wanted to encompass the candidate as a genuine person, not a status quo politician. To do so, we created a GOTV filter that included an avatar of our client, standing next to a yard sign with his branding, while wearing his famous leather military jacket.

This ad ran on November 1, five days before the election day. The ad received nearly 130,000 paid impressions from people ages 18 to 35 in its state of origin. In total, the ad received 6,500 shares and close to 500 saves. The filter’s engagement proved users were engaging with the filter, saving it, and even sharing with their followers.

Similarly, an interactive video ad ran for the same client from November 1 to November 6 and targeted millennials. The number of paid impressions totaled out at 160,000+ at the end of the campaign, with a total ad spend of only $350. The number of video views was 6100 with 660 swipe ups to a targeted landing page focused on GOTV persuasion.

Snapchat for the Win

In another area of the country, we focused on ads comparing our candidate’s positive qualities to their opponent’s negative. We delivered 107,000 impressions in four days with a minimal budget. Swipes were 1,004 up, with the assumption that on average of people that swipe, 10% of them convert in hyperlocal audiences.

Taking into consideration the geography and the precincts that the client won, Snapchat accounted for approximately 50 to 60% of the votes that pushed them over the finish line (the final race results had the candidates separated by less than 250 votes).


Comparing the total results, and the specifics of the three examples above proves our thesis correct: Snapchat ads distributed relevant information in a cost-efficient manner and yielded positive engagement that contributed to candidates’ votes.