Some in the ad tech ecosystem could see it as an opportunity.
Since television is the main mass-reach media alternative, online video and CTV would stand to gain by Facebook defecting on politics, said Telaria head of research and insights Karen Ring. Those would-be budgets will be more likely to remain in data-driven, digital channels, instead of reverting back to linear TV, she said.
More paid media would shift from direct response fundraising to persuasion, with higher use of programmatic to replace Facebook video, said Grace Briscoe, Centro’s VP of candidates and causes.
And despite the disadvantage to the Democratic Party, its agencies’ will get more work if political advertisers can’t use Facebook.
“A lot of shops built their house on Facebook’s land, so to speak,” O’Grady said. “Targeting, deliverability, inventory availability all look really different outside of Facebook and it’s going to be a steep learning curve for some agencies and campaigns.”
The frustration from Democratic operatives on a potential Facebook ad ban also centers on the media and public misunderstanding of the dynamics that drove misinformation and electoral influence during the 2016 campaign.
The Russian influence campaign against Hillary Clinton relied mostly on organic promotion, such as networks of fake accounts that would elevate content without paid media.
YouTube’s ad policies aren’t driving misinformation, Berlin said. That comes mostly from algorithmically selected autoplay videos that send users down right-wing propaganda rabbit holes.
Conservative news and causes also use shady organic tactics on Facebook. The Daily Wire, a conservative news site that’s one of the most popular publishers on Facebook, operates a network of booster accounts that the social network allows despite mimicking the “inauthentic coordinated behavior” of electoral influence campaigns, as detailed by Popular Information, the newsletter by reporter Judd Legum.
“These platforms are trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist,” Goudiss said. “As long as people know what messages are sponsored and who is paying for them the issue will continue to be organic shenanigans.”