Political Advertising on Social Platforms
Political advertising has become a controversial topic on social platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter. These platforms have different and often shifting rules for the types of political content they allow. For example, Twitter initially banned political ads in 2019 but later rolled back that rule. Currently, the larger social platforms mostly allow political ads, but with certain restrictions in place.
According to Patrick Burton, VP and director of strategy and acquisition at MissionWired, a direct marketing agency that works with progressive nonprofits and political campaigns, the larger social platforms have implemented restrictions to ensure that political ads meet specific guidelines. MissionWired’s clients include well-known organizations such as Make-A-Wish, Save the Children, and political figures like Sen. Raphael Warnock.
When it comes to placing political ads on Google and YouTube, political advertisers face certain limitations. Unlike most Google advertisers who can upload and target their own file of donors, political advertisers cannot take advantage of this feature. On the other hand, Meta (formerly Facebook) offers more than 20 different ad placement options, but only a few of them are available for political and social issue advertisers. Ad placements such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Right Hand Column, Marketplace, Search, Facebook Stories, and Suggested Videos are off-limits to political and social issue advertisers, as mentioned in Meta’s guidelines.
Challenges for Political Advertisers
Political advertisers face additional challenges when it comes to their creative content. For instance, ads from a gun violence prevention organization advocating for gun control legislation may be considered political content. This poses problems on platforms that ban or limit gun ads.
Despite these challenges, MissionWired has good relationships with the ad platforms it serves on, according to Patrick Burton. The agency can work with the platforms to ensure that the intent of their creatives is understood. If an automated review process flags an ad, MissionWired can request a manual review by a person to resolve any issues.
The Impact of Apple’s Privacy Changes
While navigating political advertising on social platforms is one challenge, MissionWired has recently faced another significant obstacle. Apple’s privacy changes in 2021, particularly on iOS devices, have made it more difficult for ad buyers to target users and track conversions.
Prior to Apple’s release of the AppTrackingTransparency framework, Facebook was a dominant platform for nonprofit advertisers like MissionWired. However, the privacy changes have forced the agency to adapt its approach. Now, MissionWired is exploring other strategies, including investing more in programmatic display and connected TV (CTV) ads. They are also experimenting with in-app mobile games that gamify the process of donating to a nonprofit.
Additionally, Apple’s updates have prompted MissionWired to increase its segmentation efforts on Facebook. Due to signal loss caused by the privacy changes, the available segments are now less specific. As a result, the agency must purchase ad placements against a higher number of segments on Facebook to reach the same audiences it had reached in the past.
Political advertisers on social platforms face various challenges, including navigating ever-changing platform rules and adapting to privacy changes. Despite these hurdles, MissionWired and other agencies like it continue to find ways to deliver effective political advertising campaigns for their clients. By working closely with ad platforms, requesting manual reviews when necessary, and exploring new approaches, these advertisers can strive to meet their objectives in an ever-evolving digital landscape.