Commexis Cast – July 19, 2018: Facebook’s Political Ad Authorization System is Blocking Non-political Ads

Today’s Commexis Cast discusses a problem facing many brands: Facebook’s automated political ad authorization system is blocking non-political ads, some for keywords that are reminiscent of politics, and some that are not.

Following the revelations in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, as well as evidence of attempted Russian interference and influence on the 2016 presidential election through Facebook ads, the social media giant has been working to reduce the chances of such controversy while also making political advertising on the platform more transparent.

To that end, Facebook instated a political ads policy in May that requires individuals who wish to run political ads to be verified, as well as inform Facebook on the individuals or political entities that purchased the ad. Artificial intelligence is then used to detect individuals who are not verified, or who have not listed the purchaser of the ad, and are running political ads. These ads are then blocked.

Or, ideally they are. Amy Gesenhues on Marketing Land reports that it’s not just political ads that are being blocked. Many ads that have keywords that could be ID’d as political are being blocked. Gesenhues quotes from a Bloomberg Report that a farming company, a hair waxing salon, and even Walmart had ads blocked for featuring the word “bush”. The Facebook algorithm clearly misinterpreted the use of the keyword for a reference to former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Advertisers in Clinton, Iowa and Clinton, Tennessee had their ads blocked, as well, seemingly for having an address located in the text.

Our own paid social team, Rebekah and Jim, have found that Facebook is also blocking ads under this criteria that don’t directly state obvious political keywords. They both found that some ads are flagged for seemingly no reason, and that an appeal can often take days, weeks, or months. This error could ultimately be detrimental for a small or medium sized business, for whom Facebook doesn’t offer fantastic customer support for.

Today’s cast: James Van Horn (Commexis Paid Placement Specialist), Rebekah Milsted (Commexis Social Media Manager) and Matthew McGrorty (Commexis Videographer/Podcaster).

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