Posted 02.12.2019 by Josh Krakauer
Welcome to social media marketing in 2019. As you may have heard, Facebook set up an authorization process that is required before a Page can run “political ads” on its advertising platform. While you may not typically build political ads, getting authorized now could bail you (or a client) out of a tricky situation later. Yes, even if you don’t think the pages that you manage are “politically adjacent.” Don’t fret, we’ve compiled a few notes on how to navigate this two-step process. [Click here to skip ahead to the authorization checklist.] To start, let’s get a bit of background.
The definition is more flexible than you might think. Ads that include political content are defined as any ad that:
Whether you meant to run “political ads” or not, Facebook might think you are. “National legislative issues of public importance” is pretty vague, and that is intentional. We expect to see Facebook update this list over time to cover topics that Facebook wants to better regulate. (Yes, it is a literal list.) And, at the time of our original publication, it includes “legislative issues” like:
That’s…a lot. The broad definition of some of these issues could result in your content getting flagged regardless of how political you believe it be. That’s the crux of our pro-authorization recommendation; even ads that you may not consider to be “political” can be flagged. If they are flagged, you won’t be able to distribute them without appeal or authorization. See this flagged post from Comcast, as an example.
At a macro-level:
Want to see what political ads look like? Satisfy your curiosity here: Archive of Ads With Political Content There are some micro-level changes, too:
To start the process visit the identity authorization page. Once there you will be prompted to run through a number of steps for verifying your identity.
To do this, Facebook needs to generate a code to send you through the mail. Here are the steps you have to take in the setup process.
If you have ever verified a location for a listing site, this process should be similar.
Make sure the ID is completely clear.
In our team’s identification, early versions of our ID uploads threw an error code. Be sure to take a close up picture that’s completely flat, shows all four corners, uses a clear and focused image, and sits on a dark background. Then spin around in your chair five times and hope it works. Because Facebook.
Congratulations! Once you have verified your identity, and subsequently been authorized to run political ads, you will need to link your ad accounts in Business Manager to set up the “paid for by…” disclaimers mentioned above. Do not skip this step or you risk your Facebook ads getting flagged.
There are four steps to link your Facebook ad accounts.
Once approved, a new check box (or switch on mobile) will appear in the ad creation process. If your ad includes political content, check the box.
As a quick note, only a page admin can complete this workflow from start to finish. For more information regarding how user permissions interact these new policies please consult this article: Facebook Business Help: How your ads that include political content will appear
Facebook claims that you should expect to receive your verification card 7–10 days after requesting it. Your mileage may vary. We found that to be true 2 out of 3 times. For the record, the verification letter was sent from Jersey City, New Jersey and we live in Iowa City, Iowa. If you do not receive the verification code in 10 days, contact Facebook. The two-factor authentication, ID verification, and SSN verification were near-instantaneous to setup.
For now this process has not rolled out to all Pages, though anything is possible. Here is Facebook’s official note on Pages that would be affected: “Today, we’re also announcing that people who manage Pages with large numbers of followers will need to be verified. Those who manage large Pages that do not clear the process will no longer be able to post. This will make it much harder for people to administer a Page using a fake account, which is strictly against our policies. We will also show you additional context about Pages to effectively assess their content. For example, you can see whether a Page has changed its name.”
Twitter is rolling out their own policy and authorization process for political advertising. According to their FAQ, they will be creating a similar policy for issue advertising, too. Expect more updates through 2019.
If you don’t find the answer you need in the Help Center, here’s a direct link to Messenger chat with a Facebook rep. You will need access to your Facebook Page and Ad Account to facilitate a chat. They are not guaranteed to provide a solution, but it may get you to an official answer on why an ad was disapproved.
Leave us a comment below if you ran into a problem others might have too. This post was last updated in February 2019.
If you think this new Facebook change doesn’t affect you, think again.
It's never been easier to break into the world of paid media. Here's what the experts are saying about 2019 & beyond, from our "Let's Get Digital" event.