News & Views

Advertising During the 2020 Election

As the 2020 presidential election approaches, advertising and social channels are filling with memes and news on the latest debates and political stances. As a result, marketers are looking for ways to navigate non-political advertising across channels during these times.

While political spend may be increasing in some mediums, not all advertising efforts are outspent by online messaging surrounding the election. In 2020, it is estimated that $1.2 billion of political spend will be spent digitally, a small portion of total advertising efforts between broadcast television, radio and cable TV. How these ad dollars will impact your business advertising program directly depends on the channel mix you are utilizing.


A strong advertising platform in economic development, LinkedIn has statistics showing that users are 23% more likely than the average internet user to regularly read about news and current events online. This makes the platform a resource for many users seeking content that is relevant and educational. In fact, the highest engagement from users scrolling through LinkedIn is generated from content on industry trends and news or tips and best practices for business.

But what if my ads get lost in a sea of political marketing? As a popular source for news and information, LinkedIn maintains a politically neutral advertising environment, prohibiting ads that advocate for or against any political candidate or intend to influence voters of either party. This policy protects users from any and all sensitive political issues being advertised throughout the year.

What does this mean for my economic development organization (EDO?)? During the 2020 election, LinkedIn remains a safe and successful channel to market for EDOs, with minimal to no impact being anticipated from political spending.


A channel reaching more than 256 million users in the U.S. and Canada, Facebook has made additional efforts to restrict political advertising during the 2020 election. New policies in place prohibit new political ads from being launched within the seven days leading up to the election. This policy, however, does not prevent existing political ads from continuing to run during the week surrounding November 3rd.

Unlike LinkedIn, information and advertising on Facebook lean into politically sensitive comments, with heightened engagement surrounding information related to both political and non-political content. Although non-political advertising during the 2020 election runs the risk of being outspent by political dollars, the larger concern for economic development organizations comes from user commentary and reactions. As the election draws nearer, EDOs should review ad content for sensitivity, prioritize timeliness in monitoring Facebook comments and consider taking a temporary hiatus from advertising in the weeks following November 3rd.


Following the lead from Facebook, Google has also implemented new restrictions on advertising surrounding the election.. The ad policy referred to as the “sensitive event” policy has been utilized in the past by Google following chaotic events or times of uncertainty such as natural disasters or the COVID-19 pandemic. Following November 3rd, the “sensitive event” policy will be placed on all ads referencing candidates or the 2020 election for a pre-determined period of time, suspending the ads from being delivered through the platform.

How will this impact EDOs? In short, it won’t. With Google ads being a more intent-driven platform, economic development organizations targeting industry or business-related keywords will be able to continue advertising efforts with little to no impact on results.


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