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Political advertising during COVID-19 is the calm before the storm


The Kobe. Nineteen pandemic has decimated digital advertising. But that may actually be good. I political campaigns online is way cheaper right now and that makes it easier for candidates to get in front of voters many of whom are a captive audience. While working from home that could give a boost to independent candidates but it could also mean that online ads are way more accessible to bad actors looking to spread misinformation for right. Now though according to marketplace's Kimberly Adams our political reporter in Washington. No one's really running any ads at all. It is usual at this time in a campaign for political ads to kind of drop off but almost no one has been running any ads. Everyone's worried that because all anyone wants to consume online is either things that make you happy or things related to Co vid. There's not really much return on investment. Even if you do take advantage of these cheaper ad prices to run a political ad. Who does that end up benefiting if anybody in the short term? I mean it sounds like that could be a big boost to incumbents absolutely because fundraising is so hard in this environment. Anybody who's trying to sort of get into a race or maybe relatively unknown or is God. Help them trying to get in media attention environment. This makes it really really challenging so their campaigns and even advocacy groups that maybe wanted to do a ballot initiative are having to balance out whether or not they want to take advantage of these cheap digital ad prices or if they want to just wait and hope that things open back up again and then maybe try to run ads later. That said I was speaking with Tim. Lamb of limb consulting services. He's a works with a lot of Democratic candidates in groups here in DC and he was saying well if there ends up being a second wave of infections as many are predicting in the fall. That's sort of at the peak of when you would have those ads. So what do we do then But even though candidates might not be buying a lot of digital advertising right now for the moment is in digital kind of the only game in town right and in many ways. The lockdown is freeing up more resources for these campaigns to spend on digital and so instead they're investing that money in digital outreach whether that be online phone banking or doing polls because people are stuck at home and they're going to answer the phone or developing new digital ads and working on their targeting strategies. So that money is going to be spent. It just won't be spent in the ways that it usually is right and so we may find that what we end up with is a supernatural campaign right if you got tired of seeing political ads during the primary if this really gets going and there is an opening for political advertising. It's GonNa be a lot and then there is also this question of digital advertising and its effect on misinformation and so. I wonder if it's cheaper. A lot of people are online consuming information. Does that make us more susceptible to messaging meant to polarize us? Does it make disinformation that much more accessible to parties? Who would want to do harm in any case if you make it cheaper for bad actors to get their message in front of people of course it increases the risk that that misinformation is going to spread further and faster and I think that's why you're seeing sort of an increase crackdown by these social media sites and People who are really active in this area about consumer awareness of this issue and so as we get further along into the campaign you can absolutely imagine that people are going to exploit the strain that all of these systems are under to get messages out there that are either untrue or at least stretching the truth quite a bit. That's marketplace's Kimberly Adams in Washington. Dc Forbes has a piece this week noting that this had already been kind of strange year for political advertising since the winter saw huge amounts of spending especially by Michael Bloomberg so between the pandemic and expected spring drop spending overall not just online peaked at twenty one point five million dollars a week just before Super Tuesday and then dropped to around five million dollars a week by the end of April. You can find a link to that story at our website. Marketplace Tech Dot

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