April 04, 2023
April 04, 2023

Diversifying Content on Snapchat

This year Snap’s Diversity Annual Report (DAR) will include two Snap-commissioned studies looking at the diversity of Snap’s partnered content on the Stories page: a USC/UCSB Content Audit and a Global Audience Assessment by research firm KRI of Snapchatters in 13 countries.
We believe the content on our platform should be representative of the Snapchat community and their interests. Snap conducted an audience assessment and its first content audit to take a deeper look at partnered content on the Stories page and better understand the quantity and quality of on-screen representation of different identity groups. We’ll use the results to inform future programming and partnerships on our platform. Read more below on the results of these studies and how we plan to improve our content experience to better reflect our diverse community. 
USC/UCSB Content Audit  
To make sure that both our products and content better reflect the diversity of Snapchatters we serve, Snap partnered with the Media Neuroscience Lab (MNL), University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (AII), University of Southern California to perform a multi-year, first-of-its-kind representation audit of English-language partnered content on Snapchat (content from traditional and digital native media partners). The team used a combination of computational methods and human assessors to understand how well gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+, and disability were represented in Snapchat content.
USC/UCSB Content Audit - Key Findings: 
  • Representation in Snap partnered content is roughly in line with the broader entertainment industry, though we understand there is a unique opportunity to help raise the bar. 
  • Snap Originals allowed us to showcase more diversity in talent and characters than our partnered content and industry at large. We had made a number of intentional investments to change representation in front of and behind the camera on all productions (see Snap Originals Equity Pledge). After sun-setting Originals last fall for business reasons, we're applying that focus to our network of trusted partners and creators — working with them to apply the lessons we learned producing Originals.
  • You can read the Executive Summary and the Full Report of the USC/UCSB Content Audit here.
Takeaways:
  • Snap partnered content approached proportional representation in terms of race/ethnicity but were more representative for some groups than others. 17.7% of characters in partnered content were Black/African-American, which is higher than the general population (13.4%). However, Hispanic/Latinx characters represented only 5.2% of characters compared to 18.5% in the general population. 
  • Women characters made up 37% of on-screen representation vs ~50% in the general population. In addition, women characters were more likely to appear in specific genre categories such as Beauty, Fashion & Style, Animals, DIY & Crafts, Animation, and Parenting.
  • Characters from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups were also more likely to appear in video content published from channels associated with the genres of Sports, Beauty, Parenting, Travel, and General Satisfying. 
“It is essential for companies to look closely at the content they are producing and distributing to understand whether they are representing their audiences and users. The opportunity to partner with Snap and with Dr. René Weber and the Media Neuroscience Lab at UCSB allowed us to do just that. Through this analysis, we discovered insights that will empower Snap to understand its content in new ways and to continue to work toward offering inclusive content to its users.” 
- Dr. Stacy L. Smith, Founder, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, USC 
“As a pioneer in the field of computational inclusion research, the UCSB Media Neuroscience Lab is thrilled to have collaborated with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (Dr. Stacy Smith and Dr. Kate Pieper) and Snap Inc. and to share our findings on Exploring Inclusion in Snap Content. By applying cutting-edge computational methods in tandem with expert human assessments via the newly created Measuring and Tracking Inclusion (MTI) platform, we have uncovered insights that highlight the importance of technology in analyzing and monitoring diversity and representation online. This research underscores the tremendous potential for industry and academia to work together to tackle the systemic biases that persist in digital spaces. We hope our study inspires continued collaboration and innovation in this important area of media research.”
- Dr. René Weber, Director, Media Neuroscience Lab, UC Santa Barbara 
KRI Global Audience Assessment   
In 2022, Snap commissioned a global identity study of Snapchatters in 13 countries. The study, undertaken by research firm KRI, established identity profiles in each market based on demographics and sentiment as well as which dimensions of identity Snapchatters want to see represented more frequently on Snapchat. 
The study revealed that in a majority of markets, Snapchatters are more diverse than the general populations. 
Key Insights:
  • In a majority of markets, around 20% or more of daily Snapchatters are LGBTQ+.
  • Across the globe, Snapchatters care most about issues around mental health, bullying, and equality. 
  • Pervasive discrimination presents everyday challenges for Snapchatters whose race or ethnicity differs from their market’s majority population; their experience of the world and their sense of community are far more likely to be impacted by race, ethnicity, skin color, and religion.
  • When it comes to their sense of self, many Snapchatters across the globe experience a disconnect between the way they see themselves and the way society sees them — including their values, skills, & character.
Snap’s Content Action Plan  
The insights we’ve gathered from both the Global Audience Assessment and the Annenberg Institute Content Audit have highlighted an opportunity for us to close the gap between who Snapchatters are and the identities and content they’re seeing represented on Snapchat. We’ve set the way forward in a Content Action Plan, which includes a commitment to:
  • Hold ourselves accountable by creating aspirational goals for specific demographics to increase representation as we onboard partnered content. Beyond simple representation, we'll also aim to broaden how and where characters are portrayed, increasing diversity across all types of content and reducing stereotypes in our storytelling.
  • Educate our partners to create and onboard more representative and inclusive partner content. We’ll apply learnings from the progress we made with Snap Originals, both on screen and off screen, to support our partners. 
  • Build new tools to track DEI progress when we onboard shows to Snapchat. We’re continuing to work with our content partners to bring on content that better reflects the diversity of Snapchatters and what they want to see. 
  • Continue to invest in diversifying the next generation of content creators through our 523 program for Black creators and content companies owned by underrepresented groups.
“At Snap we believe DEI is everyone’s job, and everyone should be a leader in DEI. We always want to improve the content experience on Snapchat and hold ourselves and our partners accountable. But leadership requires insight: With the help of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (AII) at USC, the UCSB Media Neuroscience Lab, and KRI, these valuable insights are inspiring our team to nurture and onboard content that is representative and relevant to Snap’s diverse community.” 
- Oona King, VP DEI at Snap Inc.
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