The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday on a ruling by the Florida Election Commission that St. Petersburg Mayor Candidate Scott Wagman's ads on Google appear to violate state disclosure laws even though exceptions already exist for bumper stickers and buttons and the click thru URL did contain a disclosure. My friend Kate Kaye also reported on this ruling as did techPresident's Nancy Scola who supplied a local news video in the article. After reading these articles plus some of the testy comments left on them, here's my take on what's going on since I've run quite a lot of political paid search, social networking, and banner advertising in the past few years :-)
- According to the video Scott Wagman relied heavily on the internet to get his message out. That's good for him.
- Scott believed (guessing here) that Google ads and Facebook ads were kosher without the disclosure as per Federal guidelines that gave an exception to these small ads.
- Florida's Election Commission believes the ads violate their state disclosure rules. They give exceptions for bumper stickers and buttons, yet didn't think about search ads EVEN THOUGH NATIONAL CAMPAIGNS RAN A TON OF ADS DURING THE PRIMARY AND GENERAL.
- When Hillary Clinton finally launched her paid search campaign they used some of the characters for the disclaimer which resulted in this terrible creative. Is this what the Florida Election Commission wants to have running?
- Look, don't try and tell me that Florida's Election Commission never noticed the national ads in the past few years so to not take some time to issue updated guidelines and then flag a local guy using them is well, pure BS.
- A lot of local elections have a lot of, how should I write this, personal issues and some times (not all), a competitor or competitor supporter files a complaint. I don't know if that's the case here, but it seems strange that the campaign relying on online advertising gets flagged.
Generally speaking I'm a state's right kind of guy but this is a case of where the states are clueless. To turn a blind eye to what's going on at the national level and rule on a campaign that desperately needs the internet is shameful. BTW - it highlights that Google has a long way to go in policy education.