By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
With the 2020 primary-election season but a month away and $6-billion plus expected to be spent on political advertising for the campaign, ad targeting will be a crucial factor in determining how candidates, political parties and others in the U.S. divvy all of those funds.
When it comes to choosing social-media platforms and tech giants for that ad spending, though, those who plan to target their ads to specific audiences will face what early on has become an ever-changing landscape on some of the key platforms’ political-ad rules.
As of now, here’s where platforms and some tech giants stand:
• Facebook says it will accept most political advertising with no stringent fact-checking system in place, which has raised the ire of candidates and parties alike.
• Twitter, meanwhile, as we reported here recently, has announced that it will accept no political advertising at all. However, since that initial announcement, Twitter has backed down from that stance somewhat by saying it will accept certain issue- or cause-based ads.
The platform says it will allow ads about such issues as civil engagement, the economy, the environment and social equity, for example, but those ads can’t advocate for or against a specific political, judicial, legislative or regulatory outcome related to those issues.
• Spotify announced last week that it, too, will not accept political ads in 2020, though it plans to work on its technology before re-introducing political ads to the music, podcast and video platform in future years.
• In perhaps the biggest announcement of all, as far as marketers and advertisers who use targeting in political ads are concerned, search-engine giant Google says it will limit the types of targeting that advertisers can employ to three basic types: age, gender and geofenced locationing, down to ZIP codes.
Google will still allow contextual targeting, or ad groups based on keyword and topic searches, but says other types of audience targeting, such as retargeting and behavioral targeting, will be shut down for election advertisers. Google actually deployed its limited targeting practices in the UK’s recent parliamentary elections and now will use them elsewhere worldwide.
Plenty of Head-Scratching, Targeting Tweaks Lie Ahead
All in all, the 2020 elections promise to be a season when not only parties and issues collide, but so will the ever-evolving use of targeting ads and the ongoing concern of interference in U.S. and other elections.
“This is entirely new terrain,” admitted Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde, that platform’s legal, policy, and trust and safety lead, when recently addressing its revised stance that will allow certain issue- or cause-based ads in 2020. “We’re also prepared that we’re going to make some mistakes, and we’re going to have to learn and improve this policy over time.”
“At this point in time, we do not yet have the necessary level of robustness in our process, systems and tools to responsibly validate and review this content,” Spotify told Ad Age last week of its decision to suspend all political ads in the year ahead.
However, “We will reassess this decision as we continue to evolve our capabilities.”