Google announced this week that they’re restricting political advertisers from using voter data or party affiliation in ad targeting. The result? Political advertisers can still run on the Google network. But they must target widely, not narrowly. These restrictions benefit big-dollar campaigns which can afford broader, less-targeted approaches while hurting small-budget issue and electoral efforts that must rely on more targeted, narrower delivery. Google, like Twitter in October, was facing little public pressure to make such changes. Most of the public and legislative ire was focused on Facebook, which hasn’t announced any changes (and we hope they won’t, in the interest of allowing every advertiser a level playing field). Unlike Twitter’s ban, which is fairly comprehensive, Google’s has a lot of loopholes. They don’t appear to be closing down their massive display ad exchange for voter-data targeting which more sophisticated campaigns and ad agencies can still use. Is this their way of retaining the lion’s share of political ad revenue while virtue signaling in the press for superficial PR benefit?

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