Political Ad Bans: an Opportunity for Brands

Political Ad Bans: an Opportunity for Brands

If you feel like you are tired of politics, I have bad news… it’s about to be all you see and hear about on commercials and digital ads through November. According to every prediction I have seen, political ad spend will roar higher this cycle and you’ll have the hindrance of political ad bans across multiple prominent platforms.

For marketers, this presents a unique challenge as we compete for impressions across digital and traditional ad platforms. The increased spend from political advertisers will drive rates higher, eating into your return on ad spend for a large portion of 2023. 

One major opportunity for brands in 2023 is testing or increasing your presence on platforms that have banned political ads altogether. Spotify recently joined Twitter in banning political ads ahead of the 2023 election cycle. Google has updated their political advertising policy to not allow microtargeting for political ads. This will likely push prices for media on Google up this year, especially in highly contested states and congressional districts. If Google is a major part of your paid media strategy, it could be even more critical to find other opportunities to reach your target audience.

Twitter may not have the reach of Facebook or Instagram, but more than 1 in 5 American adults use the service. In addition, they have made significant investments in improving their mobile and direct response ad units.

Spotify inventory may not be the traditional clickable and trackable inventory digital marketers are used to, but their audio ads are highly impactful for driving audiences into the top of your funnel. In the past year, Spotify has moved beyond music to become a player in the booming podcasting space. Both Twitter and Spotify have robust user data segments that allow advertisers to place highly targeted ads.

If you have not tried Twitter (X) or Spotify, 2023 is the perfect time to explore these platforms — especially if your audiences reside in battleground states!

Political Ground Game Goes Digital

Political Ground Game Goes Digital

With uncertainty around whether or not any traditional ground game will be feasible this cycle it is imperative that candidates build a cohesive digital ground game. Population Science is actively working with clients to deploy paid, owned, and earned media strategies to compensate. While there is no one size fits all strategy for political campaigns, there are two tactics that we feel can be universally deployed:



Go neighborhood, by neighborhood with targeted, digital messages across various channels. The information you can get back from short-run, micro-location targeted campaigns can be invaluable. You can measure engagement rates as signs that certain locations might be more interested in your campaign.

Campaigns can take learnings and apply them to wider targeted campaigns. For example, did you notice neighborhoods with a median age of 36 responded better than a median age of 51? Maybe you should be investing more of your digital budget in a younger voter across all of your campaigns.


Influencer Recruitment

Take your endorsement game to the grassroots level. Anyone who reaches an audience of potential voters via social media can easily sway small numbers of voters your direction. Community activists, neighborhood leaders… really anybody that can reach an audience of tuned-in voters. This is especially important in local elections.

You need to create content that is shareable and has the ability to go viral. Here are some ideas:

  • Memes (the more creative, the better)

  • Short form video

  • Informational posts


2020 might be the most bizarre campaign cycle in modern history. Get ahead of the game by lining up your digital ground game today!

Twitter Pulls the Plug on Political Ads: What This Means Going Forward

Twitter Pulls the Plug on Political Ads: What This Means Going Forward

Industry News – October 31, 2019

In a shocking move Jack Dorsey conveniently took to Twitter and announced that his company will no longer allow political and issue-based ads (click here to view the thread). My instant reaction was disappointment. I always had Twitter in my media plan for political and cause-based campaigns when the budget allowed.

What makes Twitter such a great platform for political and issue-based campaigns? The short bits of information Twitter was designed for is great for hot takes. If we know anything about political commentary today it’s all about the hot take. I understand Twitter doesn’t have the reach of other platforms, but nobody talks about “Trump Facebook Posts.” It’s the “Trump Tweet” because that’s the place to share hot takes and spark conversation.

In my opinion the timing of this announcement is nothing more than a PR stunt. Coming on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg vehemently defending Facebook’s stance on allowing political advertising on its platform Twitter is taking a shot at its much larger social media competitor. The question everyone in the political advertising space is asking themselves is whether or not Twitter’s stance will contribute enough additional pressure on Facebook to drastically limit or pull political ads from its platform altogether.

In the short term I believe Facebook will not bow to the pressure and continue to allow political and cause-based ads for the 2020 cycle. In the long term it may not be up to Facebook whether or not they continue this policy. We have already seen the first state take measures to effectively ban Facebook from running political ads. Many other politicians (both state and federal) have floated ideas of further regulating political ads.

I believe that Facebook is one more political ad scandal away from shuttering its political and issue-based ad business (either willingly or via regulation). One of three things will likely happen when the next scandal erupts:

  1. Facebook will get ahead of the fallout by voluntarily shutting down their political and issue-based ad business.

  2. Major brands will start pulling ads in protest (in the name of not wanting their brands associated with the offensive/false political content).

  3. Government will force the issue.

So what does this mean for political and issue-based advertising going forward?

I think advertisers will be safe sticking with their plans to use Facebook (sans Washington) in the 2020 cycle. That said, as Elizabeth Warren’s campaign recently pointed out Facebook still makes it very easy to promote fake political news on its platform.

I believe the next major scandal with Facebook is inevitable and likely will occur during the 2020 cycle. Facebook is already not complying with their ban on these types of ads in the state of Washington. Political and issue-based advertisers should start testing other channels to reach their audience now. As Twitter has demonstrated Facebook could come out of nowhere and shut down their political and issue-based paid media business.