Facebook Political Ads: What’s Changed

 In Political Campaigns

If you’ve been following politics or digital tech this year (or, if you’re like us, obsessively following both), you’ve probably heard about Facebook’s role in politics. After the 2016 election, the world learned just how influential digital can be in our elections, and Facebook is making big changes in advance of the 2018 midterms.

Not sure what’s going on or how it affects you? Check out our quick and easy guide to what’s changing, and how it affects advertisers, below:

1) Political and non-political ads are no longer created equal.

The first change between 2016 and 2018 is that Facebook is now differentiating between political and non-political ads, which hasn’t happened before in a big, organized way. Before any other changes took place, Facebook needed to tweak their system to recognize the difference between political and non-political ads, which they’ve now done.

If you’re an advertiser, you’ll just have to click the little box in Ads Manager that tells Facebook “This ad includes political content”. This will trigger the disclaimer on your ads, which we’ll get to a bit later.

2) All American political advertisers have to verify that they’re in the U.S.

Facebook’s not taking any chances with politics anymore. Everyone who runs U.S. political ads on Facebook must verify that they live in the United States over a multi-step process. In order to make any change on any political ad, you have to be authenticated. Otherwise, you can’t publish new ads or edit existing ads.

Our team members who run ads on Facebook are all verified and able to run ads. If you’re not, and don’t know how to get there, go to www.facebook.com/id.

3) All political ads will show who paid for them.

If your News Feed is saturated with political content like many of ours are, you’ve probably noticed some tweaks to the way political ads are presented. Mainly, next to the little “Sponsored” on promoted posts that lets you know they’re ads, Facebook is now showing disclaimers:

While it may seem like a shock to show who paid for political ads, this is a natural step in the progression of political digital advertising—basically, digital ads are just now being held to the same standard as political ads on other media platforms, like TV, email, and direct mail.

You’ll be able to start using disclaimers as soon as you’re verified as a political advertiser by Facebook. As long as you’ve set up your committee name in Facebook, and you mark your ads as political, you should be good to go!

4) All political ads as of May 7, 2018, are stored in a living archive.

Remember the “dark posts” that the Trump campaign used that were highly-targeted, without sharing capabilities, and basically untraceable? No more! Starting this month, Facebook is keeping track of all political ads run on their site—and the database is public.

This shouldn’t change much (if anything) for advertisers, but it’s good for you and your candidates to know. Even if a candidate isn’t targeting ads to you, you can still see everything that’s being run to any audience at any time since May 7th through this database. Check it out here >> https://www.facebook.com/politicalcontentads

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