Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy + investment in our elections. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and reach voters. For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
While the Presidential election is behind us, we’re just 46 days from the Georgia Senate runoff elections, which could decide the fate of pretty much all legislation for the next two years. In this week’s FWIW, we take a look at what digital advertising looks like in a world without Facebook + Google ads, and we’ll have a quick roundup of smart reads on how the biggest threat to our democracy, misinformation, continues to spread unmitigated online.
ONLINE ADS IN A POST-FACEBOOK WORLD
It has now been over two weeks since Election Day, and Facebook and Google have yet to show any signs of lifting their bans on political and issue advocacy advertising. That would not be as consequential of a decision at this stage in the year if it weren’t for the fact that two marquee elections that will determine control of the U.S. Senate (and pretty much the fate of all legislation for at least two years) are taking place on January 5th. The Senate campaigns of Ossoff, Perdue, Warnock, and Loeffler are now competing in a world where they can no longer use Facebook ads to raise small dollars and are blocked from reaching Georgia voters on Google platforms like YouTube, as well.
There is a chance the platforms will reverse those policies soon, but until then, what are the other platforms and strategies those campaigns and outside groups should be leveraging to reach voters online? What does smart digital spending without access to the most powerful social media platform to reach voters in 2020 look like?
For starters, they can check out ACRONYM + Arena’s Paid Media Tools Assessment, which breaks down several other platforms that groups commonly use to reach voters – including Snapchat, Hulu, and streaming services like Pandora. (Note: Twitter ads are also no longer an option for campaigns + PACs, but could still work for 501c3 nonprofits)
A good campaign media mix has always been about more than Facebook and Google – and those platforms’ new policies are no excuse to decrease digital budgets. In Georgia specifically, we’ve already seen a few dozen ads from liberal groups like Collective PAC, Voter Participation Center, and of course, our own team at ACRONYM pop-up on Snapchat, and expect many more to launch on that platform in the coming days .
Only *one* of the four competing U.S. Senate Campaigns is up advertising on Snapchat right now – and that’s Rev. Raphael Warnock’s team. They’ve thrown a couple thousand dollars behind the below creative driving traffic to their voter information hub that provides audiences with registration info + prompts to make their plan to vote. While Perdue and Loeffler aren’t advertising there yet, they do have some “cover.” Lindsay Graham, who has recently shown a willingness to interfere in Georgia’s elections, is running a pair of Snapchat ads attempting to fundraise for both GOP candidates in the Peach State. 🤔
ACRONYM’s Media Director via Lockwood Strategy, Cat Stern, broke down some of the best options for us:
“Snap is always a great (and cheap) platform to reach a younger audience. Campaigns can also partner with influencers to get on currently banned platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. They could also consider more local/regional site inventory, which they can likely access via a managed service programmatic vendor. Then there’s always Reddit, which I know some campaigns have found success with.
Luckily, our team has been well-acquainted with diverse media mixes for some time, but in a world without Facebook and Google, we are pivoting to buy display ads and videos via DSPs, SnapChat, and Outbrain. We’re also planning to lean into influencer marketing, OTT, and audio ads”
THE MISINFORMATION AGE IS HERE TO STAY
As we mention nearly every week, the Right has never needed to rely on paid advertising to drive their narratives and misinformation, which spreads most through organic content and right-wing news online. Since Election Day, there have been numerous studies and reports on how misinformation flowed into voters’ social media feeds all throughout this (never-ending) cycle.
Our own CEO Tara McGowan wrote on Medium that until progressives get serious about building a robust, year-round digital media infrastructure, cycle-driven ad spending will continue to drive short-term (and often short-lived) gains.
And finally, for those of you who don’t believe the platforms like Facebook share some responsibility for actively spreading misinformation, take a look at what Facebook has been pushing via notifications to some users, via Deepa Seetharaman at the WSJ.
It’s that time in the election cycle that many of you may be looking for your next big moves. We want to help do our part, so we’ll be sharing opportunities from our friends and partners over the coming weeks. If you’re an organization or campaign and want to recruit via this newsletter, send us an email!
That’s it for FWIW this week, we’ll be off for the next two weeks, but we’ll be back in your inboxes on December 11th. Don’t forget to check out last week’s issue on Boosted News, and please forward this email to a friend + follow us on the socials below in the meantime!