Ad platforms have been thrown into the forefront of scrutiny in recent years, resulting in stricter policies regarding political advertising. If you’re managing a political PPC campaign, whether promoting a candidate or an advocacy group, you should be aware of how each of the major platforms handles political ads. You’ll likely run into much greater limitations than the average campaign you manage, and should know up front what extra approval processes you’ll need to go through and where you can’t advertise.
In this article, we’ll summarize the guidelines from each platform for political advertising.
Platforms Banning Political Ads
First, two major ad platforms, Bing and LinkedIn, ban political advertising altogether. In October 2018, Bing decided to stop accepting any form of new political ads.
LinkedIn implemented a similar policy earlier in 2018. Here’s an excerpt from their Advertising Policy page: “Political ads are prohibited, including ads advocating for or against a particular candidate or ballot proposition, or otherwise intended to influence an election outcome.”
Google does not permit political ads related to state or local issues in the state of Washington due to a campaign finance law with stringent reporting guidelines. Otherwise, you can run political ads within Google Ads as long as you comply with regional policies.
For ads related to elections in the US (federal and state levels), EU, and India, you will have to go through a verification process. This includes supplying information about your organization, such as a Federal Election Commission ID (if applicable) and verifying info such as contact information and citizenship. See more details and additional state-level criteria in Google’s Political Content guidelines.
Facebook allows political advertising once you’ve gone through a verification process. The organization page will need to verify their information, as well as any individuals who will be assigned to the ad account.
Individuals will need to go through a process that involves submitting a government ID and requesting a pin number to be mailed to their address. They’ll also need to turn on two-factor authentication for their accounts. See more details in Facebook’s instructions.
In addition to containing the standard “Sponsored” label on Facebook, political ads will also call out the organization that is paying for the ad. Facebook also considers ads relating to a broad range of “issues of national importance,” such as the economy, education, healthcare, or poverty (see a complete list here), to be in a political category, so it’s worth checking with their support team if you think your topic will fall under scrutiny for their political policies.
Tip: If you’d like to research examples of political ads that other groups are running, check out ProPublica’s tool.
Twitter Ads allows political advertising, but US advertisers must file for certification. The following requirements are listed:
- Profile photo, header photo, and website must be consistent with the handle’s online presence.
- Bio must include a website that provides valid contact info.
- If handle name is not related to the certified entity, the bio must include the following disclaimer: “Owned by [certified entity name]”
The certification process entails supplying an Employer Identification Number and mailing address for an organization, or a government-issued photo ID for an individual. You’ll receive a letter with additional instructions.
For more details, see Twitter’s political guidelines.
Launch Your Campaigns
Once you’ve gone through any necessary political verification process, you can proceed with launching campaigns. Note that you may face extra scrutiny on ads due to the political nature of the topic, so be ready to reach out to platform support or reps with any questions. At the end of the day, once compliant with guidelines, political campaigns can be run similarly to other PPC campaigns, monitoring metrics and optimizing for performance.
Have you run PPC political campaigns? What hurdles did you run into, and what advice do you have? Share in the comments below!