No More YouTube Masthead Takeovers; How Brands Promoted Voting

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No Reservations

Donald Trump’s reelection campaign spent big money to book prime real estate on YouTube by grabbing the masthead in the days leading up to Nov. 3. But now that sort of real estate domination will no longer be an option. Google said this week that it changed its policy and will discontinue reservations for its masthead ads – which cost about $2 million a day – beginning next year, CNBC reports. Advertisers will only be able to buy that spot on a per-impression basis, making it harder for a single advertiser to take over the page for a full day at a time. But YouTube insists that its decision has nothing to do with the election, because the move affects all advertisers. Um … okay. The Republican and Democratic campaigns have been engaged in a yearlong tug of war over that prime piece of ad space, according to The New York Times – and for obvious reasons. YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world. At one point, the Democratic National Committee tried to reserve specific dates for the masthead, including Election Day, but was told hours later that it was already taken by … guess who. The DNC claims that YouTube hasn’t been clear enough on its buying policies. But despite Trump's YouTube blitzes, Biden actually spent more than him on Google ads overall, as per Business Insider.

Facebook Ad Deets

Since launching its Ad Library in 2018, Facebook has collected tens of thousands of Trump and Biden campaign ads, Forbes reports. The archive, which is publicly available and brings transparency to ads on its platform, is in large part Facebook’s mea culpa for its role in the 2016 US presidential election. But it was a tough nut to crack considering the hyper-targeting available on Facebook. Now, however, every ad bought by a Facebook page on behalf of a political candidate or social issue is available for review and shows both the content of the ad along with the audience being targeted, how many users are being reached and how much the ad cost. Biden’s page spent, for example, $6.1 million on 19,336 different ads between Oct. 25 and Oct. 31 while Trump’s page spent $2.9 million on 53,817 different ads. (The amount of money Facebook makes from political advertising is vanishingly small compared to its overall ad revenue of more than $20 billion a quarter.) Both candidates have been leaning hard on Facebook, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facebook’s political advertising came under additional scrutiny last week after the platform’s technical systems mistakenly blocked thousands of ads from Biden’s election campaign along with some from Trump as a part of FB’s new ban on political ads a week before the election. [In related – and, of course, controversial news, since we are talking about Facebook, after all Facebook Seeks Shutdown Of NYU Research Project Into Political Ad Targeting.”]

Get Out The Vote

Brands launched unique ad campaigns aimed at getting people to vote this year, and The Drum put together a list of some of the best. In an election year bolstered by the pandemic, the subsequent economic recession and the ongoing fight against racial injustice, brands took it upon themselves to use their influence to get US citizens to vote on Election Day. Among the more noteworthy efforts was Nike’s “You Can’t Stop Our Voice” campaign aimed at increasing voter participation and minimizing barriers to voting. The ad features LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Odell Beckham Jr., Sue Bird, Ja Morant, A’ja Wilson and Tim Anderson, and asserts that you don’t have to be a star to have a voice. Others include The Economist’s “Word Play,” Babe Wine’s “Election Night Survival Kit,” Patagonia’s “Vote the [expletive] Out” and Under Armour’s “Run to Vote,” among others.

Pandemic Fuels Startups

Amid the gloom of the coronavirus pandemic and economic recession, a flurry of startups have emerged claiming to disrupt the traditional agency model, Campaign US reports. In October alone, there were six high-profile agency launches, including Friendly Giants, an agency co-founded by Omnicom Media Group’s Sam d’Amato – and named after Roald Dahl’s titular character in “The BFG” – and Platform, a shop founded by former M&C Saatchi chief creative officer Justin Tindall and CMO Kate Bosomworth. Two distinct motivations appear to be driving these ventures, according to Victoria Fox, chief executive of management consultancy AAR: “There are those who did it because they always wanted to work for themselves and spotted a genuine offer, vs. those who started because something forced them into that decision, like redundancy or a restructuring.”

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