For every election, there’s always a pre-election campaign period during which candidates can share their ideas with the citizens. Traditionally, during this campaign, activities such as televised debates and street posters have been common, all of them offline.

However, with the growth of digital content consumption, political parties have started utilizing digital channels. Most of them have established their profiles on social media and, in many cases, have their own websites. This makes it easier for them to communicate directly and quickly with potential voters.

The ease of creating and promoting online content has given digital platforms a significant role in recent American elections. Obama’s digital campaign was a notable example, and Trump changed the game in his own way.

The use of bots and fake accounts prompted major advertising platforms, mainly Facebook and Google, to take action to prevent potential problems. On the one hand, a possible loss of credibility on the part of users. But, on the other hand, and perhaps more serious, there were possible criminal consequences, as the justice system began to look into what was going on.

This situation led these platforms to establish verification processes for users who want to run political or sensitive issue advertising. Although these processes are not overly complex, it’s important to complete them in order to advertise on these platforms.

Political Advertising on Google

The requirements for political advertising on Google can vary widely depending on the country in which you want to run ads. In this article, we’ll focus on the requirements for countries in the European Union.

First, it’s important to understand what Google considers political or election-related ads. According to their guidelines, political ads are those that promote:

  • A political party, an incumbent elected official, or a candidate for the EU Parliament.
  • A political party, an incumbent official, or a candidate for national office within an EU member state.
  • A topic subject to a vote in a referendum, a group campaigning in a referendum, or a call to vote related to a state or provincial sovereignty referendum.

If we find ourselves in any of these situations, we will have to consider that we are doing political advertising and complete the advertiser verification that Google asks us to complete.

Through this page, Google offers us the option to complete our verification. First of all, we have to indicate the area where we want to advertise, which, in this example, will be the European Union. We are then asked whether we want to be verified for Google Ads or for Display & Video 360.

Once we have filled in these fields, we will have two paths to follow. The first will be to verify a political organisation and the second to verify a private individual.

In both cases, Google will request information such as the Google Ads account ID, name, address, etc. You’ll also need to provide proof of your address, such as a recent utility bill, bank statement, contract, etc. This document must be from the last year.

Once you’ve completed this form, you’ll have to wait a few days to receive confirmation that everything is in order. This will allow you to start running your ads on Google Ads as usual.

Google provides a library of all the political ads that have been published on their network in recent years. You can find it on their transparency page in a special section. This page displays all the ads that have been run, the advertisers, the number of times they’ve been published, the publication dates, and the amount spent. It even provides demographic and geographic targeting information.

Political Advertising on Instagram and Facebook

The process for obtaining authorization to run political ads on Instagram and Facebook is similar to Google’s. In this case, we have to start the process from our Facebook page. In the page settings there is a specific section for political advertisements.

If we start the process, we see that Facebook first of all asks us in which country we want to advertise. Here, you must specify the country (simply stating “European Union” won’t suffice).

The next step is to confirm your identity and create a disclaimer. This part is a bit more sensitive, as anyone with access to the page can do it, and the name of the person or organization completing it will be public in the ads. It will say, “Paid for by…”. Therefore, it’s important for the person completing this process to be the face of the page or the representing organization.

In this section, Facebook will ask for basic information such as name, address, phone number, etc. If you want a disclaimer from someone else or another organization, you’ll need to provide their information. In the case that we want our name to appear (with which we have made the verification), we will simply have to select the option and Facebook will use the information provided in the verification.

Once you’ve completed this process, you only need to link the ad account with the disclaimer you’ve created, and then you can start running political ads on Instagram and Facebook.

Facebook also offers guides on how to run political ads in their help center. Additionally, you can find information about political ads run on their platform in the ad library covering the past few years.

Need assistance or more information?

If you require help with your election campaign communication or user verification, please get in touch with us.