2020 has been an unprecedented year for a variety of reasons, and the 2020 election is no exception. We believe the ability to remain agile as we finish out the year is incredibly important. We are all entering uncharted territory and it is important that we are able to adapt in real-time, remain connected, and become prepared for action. In this blog post, we have included findings from market-research leader Ipsos, a Code3 synopsis of the latest brand safety measures by platform, and options for adjusting advertising during the 2020 election.
Don’t fear the changing environment — Code3 reviewed analysis from Ipsos, the third-largest market research company in the world, who found that political advertising surrounding traditional, non-political brand ads did not, at an overall average level, impact the ads’ ability to be noticed, remembered or linked to their respective brands. The vast majority of consumers tested said that political advertising has had no impact on their reception of other brands during election time.
A positive, uplifting message could stand out. — Ipsos also found that while not imperative, respondents did appreciate a message style that used a positive, uplifting, emotional tone (more brand-building vs. sale-focused). Given the negative and somewhat toxic environment that surrounds the 2020 election, this is important to keep in mind the added ability to stand out and rise above the rest.
FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
After the 2016 election, Facebook made concerted efforts to increase voter initiatives, combat the sharing of hate speech and misinformation, and update advertiser preferences to minimize risk. With conversations around the election steadily increasing, keeping this information in mind in advance of next month’s election is key for preparation and planning.
Voting Initiatives — Since the 2016 election, Facebook’s Social Issue, Electoral or Political (SIEP) policy requires advertisers to complete additional steps and stand behind social/political ads with their real identity (including providing proof of who they are and where they are located). These ads will be entered into the Facebook Ad Library for seven years. At the beginning of September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced additional steps Facebook is implementing to encourage voting, connect people with authoritative information and fight misinformation, including a pause of all new political ads a week before the election.
Combating Hate Speech — Facebook has made an effort to cut the amount of engagement with fake news on Facebook by more than half, according to multiple independent studies. At this time, the platform fights against the spread of false news in a number of ways, including removing content that violates their Community Standards and disabling accounts. Additionally, Facebook works with over 50 third-party fact-checkers around the world in 40 languages and applies labels to false content. Presently, Facebook finds and removes 95% of hate speech before it is reported by its users and bans any content that misleads users on when, how, or who can vote. The platform also has a goal to increase this figure to 98% by EOY. For any content Facebook does decide to leave live on the platform, they apply a “newsworthy” label if it violates Community Standards but public interest outweighs the risk of harm. Users who do share the “newsworthy” content are subject to violating community standards.
Ad Updates — For advertisers who are concerned with appearing next to inflammatory content, there are options as to how best to navigate. For In-stream, Instant Article, and Audience Network placements, content that portrays debated social issues in a polarizing or inflammatory manner would be labeled under debated social issues for Brand Safety. Advertisers are able to leverage filters to help exclude content from their available inventory. Communications that are regulated as political advertising under applicable law are also ineligible for monetization features. Learn more about Facebook’s Partner monetization Policies here. Facebook also offers different inventory categories. By selecting the inventory filter “limited”, you are indicating the wish to have debated social issues content excluded from your available inventory. More details are available in the Content Monetization Policies and the content inventory table. Lastly, there is a Topic Exclusions Alpha which allows the exclusion of News and/or Government topics. Contact your Code3 lead and/or Facebook CSM about this opportunity if it is of interest.
TikTok’s primary focus is creating an entertaining, genuine experience for their community while ensuring a light-hearted irreverent feeling. Because of this, TikTok does not allow political ads (full ad policy doc here). In addition to not accepting political ads, TikTok has also put numerous policies in place to protect its users and partners. For more information, you can refer to this Brand Safety Resource: Combating misinformation and election interference on TikTok.
Snap is not expecting any sweeping black-out periods leading up to the election. Snap recommends excluding News from campaign targeting and encourages brands to lean into the fall/holiday themes during this time frame instead. That said, they are seeing many advertisers who want to join the mission to encourage voting, and are developing creatives and lenses in response. On Snapchat, all political advertising must include a “paid for by” message that is followed by the name of the sponsoring entity. Snap may also require a “paid for by” disclosure message on ad content that links to political content, ad content for political merchandise, or in other cases at Snap's sole discretion. In the United States, electoral ads must state whether or not the ad was authorized by a candidate or organization, and election ads not authorized by the candidate must include contact information for the sponsoring organization. For more information, you can refer to Snap’s Political & Advocacy Advertising Policies.
In October 2019, Twitter prohibited the promotion of political content globally. Their position as a company is that political messaging should be earned not bought. You can find out more about their policy here. Heading into Q4, Twitter recommends maintaining a consistent, if not increased presence by leveraging some of the tools and campaign controls mentioned in the link below. This ensures that brands are not losing out on share of voice (SOV), but are also remaining within brand safety best practices set forth by Twitter. Examples are: Amplify curated categories/sponsorship, Keyword targeting, Ads in search + profile controls, Conversation controls). For more information, you can refer to Twitter’s Platform Health & Brand Safety Guidelines.
Similar to Twitter and TikTok, Pinterest does not allow political ads. Pinterest is deemed a safe haven for purchase decision vs. political division. During the 2020 election season, Pinterest is working to strengthen its commitment to sharing reliable information on where and how to vote, tackling false and misleading content that could interfere with the election, and encouraging employees to participate in civic engagement. For more on Pinterest’s stance on political advertising, you can refer to their Commitment to Election Integrity and Civic Engagement.
On YouTube, agility is the name of the game. YouTube recommends that topic exclusions are applied to all campaigns (i.e. News, Politics, Law & Government). Additionally, YouTube recommends that advertisers apply relevant keyword exclusions as close to real-time as possible. Finally, YouTube suggests that advertisers run on their Limited Inventory setting, which supports less general ad exposure during key times. For more on YouTube’s policies, please see their resource on supporting fair elections and protecting against misinformation here.
Recommendations and Next Steps
Remain Close to News & Social Climate — Brand teams should stay focused on the evolving news cycle during the election period. Additionally, given social unrest beyond election conversation, we recommend diligent attention to this conversation as well.
Solidify Brand Decision Team — Code3 recommends brand teams align on who can decide the social adjustments (if any) and net new changes as we head into the 2020 election period. A representative from this group would also contact agency partners.
Organize Agency / Platform Communications Group — Code3 will have appointed contacts available during debate and election evenings until 10 pm EST for urgent changes, if necessary.