On September 3 – just two months before Election Day – Facebook announced a new policy that bans political advertisers from creating new ads on the platform from October 27 to Election Day. While Facebook states the new policy is aimed at curbing misinformation and bad actors, it will primarily affect how campaigns get out the vote, respond to attacks, and share breaking news.
Here’s what Facebook’s announcement means for your campaign and how you should prepare for the final week of this election.
All political ads must be APPROVED and DELIVERING impressions before October 27th. That means you must plan ahead and avoid waiting until the last minute to launch new ads. For example, if you wait until the evening of the 26th, they may not be approved in time to run.
You CAN update the targeting of the ads after October 27th. This means that if you launched an ad that was approved and delivering prior to the blackout, you’re allowed to edit aspects like the intended audience, geography, and your budget.
You CANNOT make adjustments to the creative of your ad after October 27th. Once approved and delivering, your ad creative cannot change in any way whatsoever. While you can adjust targeting, as mentioned above, you need to get your messaging and creative settled prior to the blackout.
This is a particularly important point when discussing your GOTV ads. For example, you can’t use the typical messaging of “Vote Today” or “Vote Tomorrow” since your creative can’t be edited or scheduled in advance.
What Your Campaign Should Do
Create a centralized voting information landing page that you will update during the transition from Early Voting to Election Day. This way, your ads will direct to an up-to-date resource that isn’t affected by Facebook’s new policy.
It’s also important to remember that you will not be able to create new ads in response to late-breaking endorsements, attacks, or developments. While it’s impossible to predict what will happen in the chaotic days before an election, it’s more important than ever that you prepare for the good and bad ahead of October 27th.
To be in a position to combat any attacks or promote any positive developments, have ads about evergreen topics up and running at a low budget level (say $5 per day) prior to the blackout. This way, you can edit the targeting and increase the budget on relevant ads to respond to real-time events after the deadline.
Since you won’t be able to prepare for everything that may pop up after the blackout period begins, you should start now to create and populate a dedicated ‘Fact Squad’ Facebook Group to counter disinformation organically. This means getting your engaged followers into a Group that can set the record straight to their networks when you’re unable to do so via ads.
Your campaign cannot afford to abandon Facebook ads in the final week of the election and these are, unfortunately, the rules we all must play by. Have a plan and start executing on it now.