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Political ads on social media are not ok. But paid placements are?

November 4, 2019

By Paige Donnell, Founder & CEO

In an era where you can target people online based on their preferences, age, location, etc., it’s amazing to me that Twitter has decided to ban all political ads and Facebook has decided not to police them at all. It also begs the question, “to police or not to police?”

If you agree that the spread of misinformation and the credibility of publications should be questioned (looking at you, Breitbart), then why aren’t social influencers and paid content being given the same level of scrutiny? After all, social influencers are paid to provide a ringing endorsement of a product or company; the same way that sites make money on advertisements.

It’s a similar story with ‘Sponsored Content’ – if we all know it’s a paid, self-promotional piece that may or may not hold misleading information, then why do trusted publications and sites have the ability to make money on it? It’s almost as though we’ve opened Pandora’s Box with the political ads decisions this week but haven’t thought through the ramifications on all the other marketing components of paid content.

Be advised, I am not against influencer marketing or paid content – I myself follow a number of bloggers and have on an occasion or two purchased a product based on their ringing endorsement. Additionally, our agency has absolutely received more “earned media” byline article opportunities for clients if said clients buy advertisements within the publication. There is nothing unethical or dishonest about this practice. After all, money makes the world go ‘round, and magazines, newspapers and digital news sites all need to make a profit to survive. 

It’s also no secret that social media is moving to a pay-to-play model these days. It doesn’t matter if your company’s page has a million followers. Very, very few will see any of your posts unless you put some money behind them.

My advice – be hyper-critical of news sources and the type of content we’re consuming. Because of this paid media trend, I actually believe we will see a swing back to the value of traditional media and third-party reporting. It does exist, as well as knowledgeable and informed reporters, but companies must be willing to seek out those trusted sources.

There’s a lot to discuss on this topic, these are just my two cents.