Restrictions on Issue Ads: The Effect on Social Impact Organizations
Microtargeting is the backbone of advocacy marketing. It allows grassroots organizations to quickly and accurately isolate the individuals who are most likely to become ardent supporters. But as political and issue ads are further restricted, grassroots organizations may lose the ability to microtarget audiences effectively.
Of course, most nonprofits’ work isn’t directly tied to specific political campaigns, parties, or legislative initiatives. But the ads they run often do pertain to “issues” as defined by the social media platforms. For example, Facebook’s list of “issues” includes civil and social rights, the economy, the environment, immigration, health, and more.
At the same time, the new policies still leave room for interpretation in terms of what exactly constitutes a political or issue ad. That definition is almost certain to evolve as the main platforms accept or decline ads based on their individual vetting processes.
Regardless, restrictions on microtargeting for issue ads will impact nonprofits and advocacy groups of all stripes. These groups will need to pony up more money in order to spread the same messages to larger, less refined audiences. Which means higher costs and reduced impact all around.
Some organizations may choose to simply shift more of their spend to Facebook, where fewer restrictions mean a smaller budget can go further. But depending on your audience, Facebook may not be the most effective channel for your organization. And some organizations may feel an ethical obligation not to shunt more money to Facebook given its stance on political ads.
The upshot? If your social impact organization has historically put all its eggs in one (or two) communications baskets, now is the time to diversify.