Instagram changes its advertising rules so that political campaign-sponsored contributions from influencers require the use of the branded content ad tool that adds the "Paid partnership with" disclosure label. The change came after Bloomberg's presidential campaign paid for meme makers to post screenshots asking them to make him look cool.
Instagram provided theinformationsuperhighway with this statement:
"Branded content is different from advertising. In both cases, however, we believe it is important that people know when to see paid content on our platforms." That's why we have an ad library where everyone can see who paid for an ad and why we require creators to disclose paid partnerships through our branded content tools. After hearing about several campaigns, we agree that there is a place for brand content in the political discussion on our platforms. We allow US-based political candidates to work with creators to create this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose paid partnerships through our branded content tools. "
Instagram explains to theinformationsuperhighway that branded content is different from advertising because Facebook receives no payment and cannot be used in a targeted manner. When marketers or political campaigns pay to increase the reach of sponsored content, it is subject to Instagram’s ad policies and is stored in the ad library for seven years.
Previously, however, Instagram banned political companies from exporting branded content because their policies covered all monetization media on Instagram, including advertising breaks and subscriptions. With these features, Facebook collects money from advertisers or users and shares it with content creators. Facebook did not want to be seen as a donation of money for campaigns, especially since the company tries to be politically neutral.
Now, however, Instagram is changing the rule, allowing political campaigns to use the branded content ad tool, but requiring influencers to be paid to post sponsored content. This is because Instagram and Facebook are not paid for these sponsorship deals between campaigns and influencers. Now all sponsorships, including the Bloomberg memes, are asked to be retrospectively labeled with this tool. This would add a “Paid Partnership with Bloomberg 2020” warning to posts and stories that the campaign paid for meme pages and other influencers to publish. This rule change begins today in the United States.
Instagram was postponed to make the change after Bloomberg DM memes flooded the website. The New York Times' Taylor Lorenz reported that the Bloomberg campaign worked with Meme 2020, an organization led by Jerry Media company Mick Purzycki of the FuckJerry account to recruit and pay influencers. Her posts made it look as if Bloomberg himself had asked Direct Messaged creators to post things that would make him relevant to a younger audience.
Part of the initial success of the campaign was due to the fact that users weren't sure whether the influencer's posts were jokes or ads, even if they were #ad or "Yes, this is really sponsored by @MikeBloomberg" were published. Public awareness of the meme campaign has quickly deteriorated. Some users call it Cringey and publish memes from Bernie Sanders, whose anti-corporate stance puts him towards Bloomberg.
The change will be made only two days after the FTC decided to review influencer marketing policies and decide whether advertisers and platforms may be liable for penalties for non-disclosure obligations.
At least the democratic candidate field is finally waking up to the power of the memes to reach a population that is largely distant from cable television and the speeches. The Trump campaign has used digital media with great impact and exploited missing rules against misinformation in Facebook ads to make inaccurate claims and raise money. The democratic challengers need all the impressions they can get.