Snap out of it: Political ads appearing on Snapchat

RICHMOND A candidate for sheriff in a rural Virginia county is trying to reach younger voters by advertising on a social media platform popular with their age group Snapchat.

William Stowell is an independent running for sheriff in Tuesdays election in Botetourt County, nestled in the mountains in western Virginia. Stowells campaign ads on Snapchat feature policies he thinks will appeal especially to younger voters, particularly his views on tobacco laws.

If Im elected, if youre 18 to 20 years old, you can go in and buy cigarettes in this county, and nobodys going to harass you or anything like that, Stowell said.

Stowell not only has an unusual media campaign plan but also is an unusual candidate. He is a convicted felon (for a third offense of driving under the influence) whose rights were restored in 2017 by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Stowell said he began using Snapchat after issues with censorship on Instagram and Facebook. He has spent just $33 on Snapchat ads but has enjoyed a big return: about 511 impressions, or views, for every dollar spent.

This election cycle, Stowell is the only candidate running Snapchat ads in Virginia. However, political organizations, advocacy groups and marketing firms are advertising on the platform, trying to inform and/or influence Virginia voters.

According to the Snapchat Political Ads Library, such advertisements have received more than 7 million impressions in Virginia this year.

Snapchat began reporting its political ad history in Septemb....

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