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It’s All About Smart Targeting Now That Geo-Blocking Rules are in Place

Recently Facebook has come up with the new tools for locally targeted campaigns that are aimed at preventing online advertising from being used for foreign interference. In a nutshell, the social media giant tightened paid ad rules ahead of EU parliamentary elections.

Our colleagues at 77Agency have already provided a comprehensive guide of the new ads transparency rules versus political campaigns, while we @GotU are most interested in exploring how to apply the new rules for better targeted political campaigns.


The very first reaction of anyone learning about the strengthening of rules on political advertising is, predictably, that of annoyance, with the nth hindrance. It is thus important to underline that it is all about modernizing and simplifying the whole process, and not complicating it.

There are namely two big novelties that will affect anyone who is interested in running political campaigns at social media. Both can be summed up in short as Transparency-Targeting-Protection.


 Novelty No 1

The first novelty concerns political and issue ads on Facebook and Instagram in the EU that will be now clearly labeled, including a “Paid for by” tag. The extra information on advertisers will also be available to non-Facebook users to avoid the company being blamed for trying to get new users as part of its transparency drive.

Its Impact on Your Political Campaign

“This means that you can see who is paying for the ad and, for any business or organization, their contact details,” Richard Allan, Facebook VP Global Policy Solutions, told press in a video-conference. “When you click on the label, you’ll be able to see more information such as the campaign budget associated with an individual ad, how many people saw it and their age, location and gender.”

It is important to remember that the rules will not affect groups who bought ads before then, but any new ads that do not comply will be taken down from mid-April onward.

Our Solution

The solution will be to adhere, the faster the better. Facebook invited all political campaigns to start the ads authorization process now, otherwise the social media giant “will start to block political or issue ads that have not been properly registered from mid-April.”

Novelty No 2

In the second place, political and issue ads will be restricted to their home countries: in order “to help prevent abuse and interference all EU advertisers will need to be authorized in their country to run ads related to the European Parliamentary elections. We will ask them to submit documents and use technical checks to confirm their identity and location,” the senior Facebook executive explained.

Its Impact on Your Political Campaign

The geo-blocking rules that would prevent EU-wide campaigns mean that EU political groups will not be able to use the social media platform to run Pan-European campaigns.

Our Solution

The solution will be a custom campaign with guaranteed results and automated multi-location targeting technology. Precisely the things that we @GotU do daily.

Novelty No 3

“We will be using a combination of automated systems and user reporting to enforce this policy,” Richard Allan said.

Its Impact on Your Political Campaign

Its use of automated software to filter content also means that some of the policing will be done by robots, while public is also summoned up to report on suspicious ads.

“Importantly, this means that all the people who are reaching you with ads identified as related to politics or issues have been authorized as being in your country and will be required to provide accurate information about who they are. This will help relevant authorities investigate them if they have any suspicions.”

Our Solution

No need to alarm yourselves, though, about the word “suspicious”.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg during his recent April visit to the company’s European headquarters, declared “These are important steps, but on some level, I think people don’t want a private company deciding what is political speech and what isn’t. It seems like these are broader democratic questions that having regulation or legislation or more government involvement defining what that is and what companies need to do would be healthier overall and more sustainable.”

Apparently, Facebook does not intent becoming an online policeman but, seeking to comply with requests EU heads of state to “ensure higher standards of responsibility and transparency”, also seeks to address eventual fragilities on its end and invests into smarter targeting and transparency.

Facebook intention to explore new technologies to protect the identity of its users, politicians or not, on our side can only translate into smart, precise and sustainable political campaigns at social media.


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