Snapchat parent Snap Inc. said it is halting ad sales to Russian and Belarusian media buyers.
The app will remain up and running in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine without advertising, the company said, because it is an “important communications tool for family and friends.”
In terms of any financial sacrifice from the foregone advertising opportunities, it isn’t clear that all that much is at stake for Snap. The company collected $660.5 million in revenue in Europe, which includes Russia, in 2021. That was about 16% of its overall total of $4.1 billion in revenue, almost all of which comes from ads. The company does not break out usage numbers or financial metrics in individual countries.
In a blog post topped by the blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag, Snap offered its support of the former Soviet state, which was invaded last week by Russia. While the company does not have an office in Russia, the post noted, “Ukraine is the birthplace of Looksery, the company that laid the foundation for Snap’s augmented reality platform, and has been the home of more than 300 of Snap’s most creative and talented team members. Over many years working with our Ukrainian colleagues and friends, we have gotten to know the inventiveness, strength, and resilience of the Ukrainian people.”
Along with the ad pause, the company said it is complying with all sanctions against Russian businesses and individuals. The company does not accept any payment from entities owned by the Russian state. Snap also said it was “vigilantly monitoring our platform for any evidence of disinformation or misuse” and subjecting its news sources to extra degrees of scrutiny.
While the company’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine situation clear and emphatic, it is also an easier one for for Snap to take than for many of its tech rivals. For one thing, its ad business is growing but remains a small fraction of the size of Facebook or Google, and Russia’s contribution is an even tinier portion. Also, while Facebook parent Meta Platforms has battled for years against the forces of misinformation, Snap’s design and user profile have limited misdeeds on its platform, at least relatively speaking.
Snap still defines itself as “a camera company” and has generally not been a vessel for campaigns that are extensively archived and coordinated on its platform. CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel has been outspoken in blaming rivals for enabling the spread of “fake news” in recent years.
Europe as a region, which includes Russia, has significant upside potential for Snapchat, which launched in 2011. The company ended 2021 with 319 million daily active users, 97 million of whom are in the U.S. Europe had 82 million DAUs and is considered 15% penetrated as a region, compared with 24% of the U.S.
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