Facebook (Finally) Exits Politics

It took more than two years, several Congressional hearings, the levying of a multi-billion dollar fine, countless PR missteps and Lord only knows how much Menlo Park navel gazing but Facebook has finally gotten out of the political ads business.

In true Facebook style of course, they aren’t saying they’re leaving. No, they’re just saying they won’t pay commission on political ads sales.

That has some naive reporters saying reaching into the archives to suggest that statements Facebook made last year still apply and that the company will continue to take political ads.

This is nonsense. Put another way: Would you ask your media buyer to do without their commission? Didn’t think so.

What’s really going on here? Well, Facebook is going back to the political business it should have stayed in, serving local campaigns on a self-service level. School board race? No problem. City council in a small or medium size city? Upload that creative!

But if you have a multi-state, multi-creative campaign with voter or demograhic targeting and need help or advice using and properly deploying the Instagram platform? You’re outta luck.

Why this move? Why now? Well, the numbers tell the story. Political ad sales were worth about $300 million for Facebook in 2018. But the fine they’re facing form the Federal Trade Commission for violating users’ privacy over the Cambridge Analytica scandal is put at $3 billion.

it’s not just Facebook that’s scaling back.

Google which is still active in the political ad arena but is operating with significant restrictions. The firm won’t take political ads for local races or ballot measures in Washington, Maryland, New Jersey and Nevada and has restricted the types of ads it will accept in New York.

Election officials in one of the states affected say that programmatic ad platforms are still running political ads so it’s not clear if Google is refusing ads directly – for YouTube and search – while allowing third-party ad platforms access to its display inventory.

If that’s the case – danger ahead – as platform buys can become subject to retroactive or late enforcement of the law. A platform buy might not be executed as ordered with only minimal or no notice at all.

Confusing? Not for Spot-On customers. We’re even rolling out a solution this fall. Our Pinpoint Placement platform is built on a database of more than 2700 local news sites across the country. They’re divided up by Congressional and state districts, searchable by zip code. We’ll offer automated direct buying, real time campaign reporting and a host of other features.

Want a seak peek demo? Send an email.

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