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What you need to do right now to prepare for Meta’s political ads restriction period

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As you might have seen, Meta announced earlier this month that, as they did in 2020, they will be restricting political advertising in the days ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. At Do Big Things, we make sure that our community is able to keep up with the ever-shifting political ad changes at Meta and other social platforms so that you can win. The stakes for candidates and organizations remain high. Here’s the skinny on what’s next and what’s new for Election 2022. 

Starting on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. PT, no new ads about social issues, elections, or politics will be allowed to start running on the platform. Ads in these categories currently delivering before this time will be allowed to continue running. The restriction period ends on Tuesday, November 8 at 11:59 p.m. PT.   However, it is worth noting that In 2020, the ban was extended till March 4, 2021 – impacting end-of-the-year fundraising efforts for many organizations. This may happen again this year so it’s prudent to begin planning now.

During the restriction period, not only will new ads in the special issues categories be barred from running, but significant edits to campaigns already actively delivering are also prohibited. This means that you won’t be able to edit targeting, ad creative, URLs, or ad placements, nor will you be able to optimize campaigns or duplicate ads that are already approved.

You can, however, adjust campaign budgets or end dates as well as pause or unpause campaigns for special issues ads during the restriction period, and you can also continue posting organic content—but boosting organic content is prohibited.

The intention of this restriction period, according to Meta, is to combat misinformation, as well as allow candidates, political campaigns, and even the press time to respond to ads and messaging ahead of the election. Yet those of us in the progressive digital community understand that some of these restrictions have limited our reach in the past without nimble planning and real-time adjustments to new Meta policies.

Impact of 2020 restriction period

In 2020, many campaigns were caught off guard by the restriction period not once, but twice. The first time it was because campaigns had not been anticipating a blackout period and the second time it was because the uncertainty of the election outcome caused Meta to extend the blackout period, impacting some political non-profits who were gearing up for Giving Tuesday. 

Missed but predictable rapid response moments

Every year we see “stay in line” content in key races. Every year there are key events that field teams want to get people to attend. The ad restrictions period meant that only the field teams who communicated with digital in advance of the meta deadline had the chance to have approved content in the can for Election Day. A takeaway from this moment? Have your field team submit their calendars for GOTV digital requests now, so you can identify any ads you’ll want to have prepped in advance.

Slow approvals

One of the big tripping points with the first round of the restriction period was confusion about the deadline. The deadline for having an ad approved is not the same thing as a deadline for having an ad submitted. With the high volume of ads that Meta was vetting during this time frame, approvals were slower than usual. Campaigns who were planning on the same approval times they saw earlier in the year left themselves with little margin for error if Meta had an ad concern or was moving slowly on approvals. 

Unintended impact on end-of-year fundraising, including #GivingTuesday, for non-profits

Non-profits with work related to political issues and had calendared early roll-outs for Giving Thursday ad campaigns were caught in the cross-hairs when Meta extended the blackout period because of the uncertain election results. With election forecasters warning that we will not know the outcome of the Senate majority on Election Day, we could see a repeat of that dynamic this year. If your organization touches on political issues, we recommend getting a few of your planned November ads approved ahead of the election deadline to avoid any unpleasant flags or surprises. 

What your team  can do now to be ready:

  • Make sure your team is authorized to run special issue ads and that your disclaimer is approved. Political or issue ads require a disclaimer to run on Meta, and anyone who posts these types of ads must be authorized to do so. You won’t be able to remove, switch or add a disclaimer to a campaign during the restriction period, so make sure you are authorized to run ads and that your page has an approved disclaimer and verified organization as soon as possible.
  • Fast-track approvals through your team now. According to Meta, ads have to be set up in platform, go through review and deliver at least 1 impression prior to the start of the restriction period to stay active. This means that it’s more important than ever to have ads approved and ready to go—consider even several versions of ads or contingency plans that you can pause or unpause as needed.
  • Plan for [a lengthier] review. Remember, all political and special issue ads must go through a review on Meta—a process that can take up to 72 hours. Plan to submit your ads for review by October 26, or sooner,  to ensure that your ads are approved ahead of the restriction period.
  • Minimize the number creative. Splitting budgets across too many ads or creative variants can cause issues with delivery—and you can’t edit creative or budget during the restriction period. Plan to streamline creative versions ahead of time to maximize budget and deliverability. If needed, use third-party platforms to test messaging and creative ahead of time to get a sense of how your audience will react to them.
  • Plan for alternative means for rapid response.  Every campaign will experience a rapid response moment, whether it’s calling out falsehood or responding to an attack.  Be sure to have a plan on how your campaign will respond in these moments: will it be through SMS, email, influencers supporters, or a combination of all the above?
  • Leverage other advertising platforms. During the ban and ever since, our team has put a premium on testing the targeting capabilities and reach of various platforms. Whether it’s YouTube, OTT, streaming audio, or display,  you can continue reaching out to your audience to educate and mobilize them to turn out.
  • Think ahead to post-Election Day. Although Meta says the extended political ad ban in 2020 was due to extraordinary circumstances and it doesn’t anticipate a longer restriction period after the 2022 midterm elections, what happens after November 8 is uncertain. For non-profits or other politically adjacent clients, consider having ad campaigns for Giving Tuesday or end-of-year giving ready to go in case new ads are restricted further into the month.

We’re sharing this information as a service to help our partner organizations and candidates reach as many voters in this critical election with important information as humanly possible. Our team are seasoned electoral experts and keep updated constantly on the ever-changing landscape in order to ensure you win. Because we you win, we know that we all win!

Please feel free to reach out to us at <EMAIL> or DM us on Twitter if you have questions or your team needs extra support in this challenging time. You can also find more details including tutorials on Meta’s Ads Authorization Resource site. Good luck out there!

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