Digital Advertising: ‘Tis the Season for Hyper Scrutiny of Ads
The pandemic, politics, social unrest, natural disasters — this has been a crazy year. We are spending more time than ever online, using computers, mobile devices and TVs. In response, digital advertising is back at pre-COVID-19 levels.
Google, YouTube and Facebook (including Instagram and Messenger) are working to tamp down misinformation with restrictions on political, social issue and medical ads. So the big question is how does a digital advertising agency create viable digital campaigns?
Both Google and Facebook have mandated a verification process before approving an organization or individual’s ability to run political ads. The platforms say verification can take 2-5 business days, but I find it has been taking longer during the pandemic due to limited availability of staff.
The verification process also applies to digital advertising agency that run political ads on behalf of individuals and organizations.
Both Facebook and Google Ads create a library of verified ads. The Google Transparency Report includes the ads, the names of advertisers and advertising dollars spent. Facebook attaches the ads to the Facebook Business page of the advertiser.
In addition, Facebook is banning any new political ads within seven days of Election Day — November 3.
Facebook is extending the ban on new ads to social issues campaigns, which it defines as “heavily debated and highly politicized sensitive topics that can influence people and impact the outcome of an election or result in legislation” (Facebook Safety & Integrity Webinar: Deep Dive into the Ad Restriction Period, September 2020).
In my experience, advertisers running campaigns identified as social issues must also go through the verification process.
Both Google Ads (search and display) and Facebook have long applied limitations to healthcare and medical ads, restricting ads for diet supplements, pharmaceuticals and prescription drug ads. Pharmacies must apply for certification in Google and are limited to what and how they advertise.
To run a Google Ads campaign that refers to COVID-19 either in the ad or on the landing page, a certification must be applied for and approved. Sales for anything pandemic-related, including masks and PPE, are not allowed.
Facebook allows ads to promote hand sanitizer, surface disinfectant wipes and non-medical masks, with temporary restrictions. I must note, however, that not everyone is being allowed to promote those items.
Facebook prohibits advertising COVID-19 test kits, medical-grade face masks and any content that indicates urgency, incites fear or claims prevention of anything COVID-19 or anything medical.
Both platforms are sensitive to personalizing ads as well.
So what does this mean for the average advertiser? My recommendation is to plan ahead and allow plenty of time for review of ads and landing pages — and consult with a digital advertising agency with a Google Certified Partner or Facebook Marketing Partner designation, like AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.