Digital consultants are turning their attention to Facebook after Google on Monday revealed it would soon lift its political ad ban. Starting this Wednesday campaigns and groups can once again place spots within the Google ecosystem, including YouTube, search, and display, which campaigns and groups have been banned from in varying degrees since November.
“It’s been a very tricky four months for political and social issue advertisers, like myself, who usually invest much of our digital budgets [in] these platforms due to their great targeting and inventory options,” said Lindsey Kolb, VP of digital strategy at Rational 360. “It’s great to see things are starting to return to normal for advertisers post-2020. I look forward to seeing other advertisers with existing restrictions follow suit.”
Facebook hasn’t revealed whether it plans to follow Google’s lead, but digital consultants told C&E they are eager for more good news: “We’re hopeful Facebook is right behind them,” said Shannon Chatlos, a senior VP for digital at Strategic Partners & Media.
Facebook’s ad ban has had an outsized impact on political marketers, who have been unable to prospect for fundraising leads and email acquisitions.
“There’s nowhere yet that quite matches some of the advantages that Facebook had,” said Phil Bartel, a VP at FlexPoint Media. While programmatic digital buying has filled some of the void, practitioners are still searching for alternatives for Facebook. “It certainly creates challenges where we’re all going to have to work harder,” Bartel added.
Whatever Facebook decides, Chatlos said 2021 candidates are still going to get a boost from Google’s decision: “Being able to run ads on Google, particularly search ads, is a critical part of running any campaign, especially for the lesser-known candidates and groups who want to get their message out there.”
“This lift does have an immediate impact on our business because we’re now able to include Google Search and YouTube, two powerful, scalable platforms, in our media mix for clients,” said Shannon Lee Kowalczyk, CEO of Lockwood Strategy.
But the targeting restrictions that the company is continuing to enforce mean that its offerings aren’t as attractive as they once were.
“These restrictions make finding the right people effectively and efficiently a much tougher proposition than it once was,” said Kowalczyk. “While it is good that Google has managed to turn ads back on before Facebook, it’s imperative that they both figure out a better plan going forward so that they are not punishing lesser known candidates, particularly those without existing digital fundraising infrastructure.”