The Authorization Process for US Advertisers to Run Political Ads on Facebook

With the midterm elections almost upon us, people in the United States are getting inundated with television and radio ads for local elections. A new trend over the past decade has been the proliferation of the use of social media to inform voters and increase awareness about particular candidates or issues. Questions about the use of social media in the 2016 Presidential Election even led to Congressional hearings where executives for Facebook and Twitter testified. One of the central questions of these hearings was what steps are these companies taking to ensure foreign actors are not using the power of social media adverting to influence U.S. elections. In response, both companies vowed to implement new procedures to prevent foreign actors from running political ads about American elections.

A few weeks ago when creating a Facebook advertising campaign for a client of ours (when to a presidential historian), I was surprised at the notification that my advertising campaign was not approved due to the ads being related to politics or issues of national importance. Although the specific ads I was trying to create was not political, I decided not to request a manual review but rather to investigate the requirements to be authorized to run ads related to politics or issues of national importance.

To better understand the process, let’s first review what Facebook considers Ads Related to Politics or Issues of National Importance. Facebook says that any ad that meets one of the below requirements will be considered in this group, and hence require authorization to run these ads:

  • Is made by, on behalf of, or about a current or former candidate for public office, a political party, a political action committee, or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office; or

  • Relates to any election, referendum, or ballot initiative, including "get out the vote" or election information campaigns; or

  • Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run; or

  • Is regulated as political advertising.

Facebook has defined issues that are considered of national importance to be the following (but Facebook expects this list to grow over time): abortion, budget, civil rights, crime, economy, education, energy, environment, foreign policy, government reform, guns, health, immigration, infrastructure, military, poverty, social security, taxes, terrorism, and values.

There are some practical limitations on the actual ad if it falls under this definition. First, each ad must have a disclaimer provided by advertisers that shows the name of the person or entity that paid for the ad. Facebook provides additional specifications for the requirements on their website. “Once authorized, you can run ads related to politics or issues of national importance on Facebook and Instagram using any ad format except dynamic ads and boosted continuous live video. Currently, these ads can't run on the WhatsApp, Messenger and Audience Network placements” (Facebook support document).

Another interesting element is the existence of the Ad Archive. The Ad Archive is a public, searchable database of every “ads related to politics or issues of national importance that have appeared on either Facebook or Instagram. The Ad Archive may include both historical and current ads.” In essence, the information you see in Ad Manager will be public to anyone if the ad is about politics. This includes:

  • Active or inactive: People can see whether or not the ad is currently running.

  • Disapproved notice: If an ad in the Ad Archive was active but then became disapproved, it will show as “disapproved” in the Ad Archive.

  • Duration: People can see the duration of the ad (ex, October 18, 2018 - October 23, 2018).

  • Impressions: People can see a range for the number of impressions the ad received (ex 1K-5K), not the exact number.

  • Amount spent: People can see a range for the amount spent on the ad (ex, $1K-$5K), not the exact amount.

  • Demographic information (Age and gender): People can see the the % of people by age and gender who had an impression on the ad.

  • Location: People can see information about the location(s) where the ad was viewed.

The authorization process is actually pretty straight forward. In general, it seems like they are most concerned that you are a citizen of and live in the country you want to be authorized to run ads in. For the U.S., you need to first turn on two-factor authentication. Two-factor is a solid security measure everyone should be using, but takes on added importance when you are potentially running ads for specific candidates. The second step is confirm your primary country location (ie. where you live). This is confirmed by receiving a letter in the mail to your mailing address with a 6 digit code that you then have to enter on Facebook. Next, you need to scan and submit a copy of a government ID (US passport, driver's license or state ID). Finally, you need to provide the last four digits of your social security number.

It will be interesting to see over the coming elections if these seemingly thoughtful processes created by Facebook will reinstall trust in their advertising platform as it concerns political ads.

Coolest Halloween Costume Ideas for 2018

It’s my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing; the air is getting crisp. Holiday season is almost upon us, and to me, it all starts with Halloween. This is the most fun time of year, where kids and adults can exercise their imaginations and create a costume for one day of fun. For some, planning a Halloween costume can take months. For others, it’s whatever they have on-hand. Either way, dressing up for one day a year can be a fun way to express yourself and change up the day-to-day grind. In case you’re hitting a mental roadblock with costume planning, here are a few ideas for Halloween 2018:

Popular Memes

Some of my favorite costumes I see every year are those that take a popular meme and turn it into a reality. It’d be cool to see a ‘moth lamp’ meme or ‘grumpy cat’ meme live in the flesh. There are so many good ones from which to choose, many of which could be challenging to put into a costume. Hence why, when you see one done well, it’s a real crowd pleaser!

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Strong Women

In these times, it’s always great to be reminded of the amazing females that have made big changes in the world. One of my favorite costumes from a Halloween party last year was Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Yes, Halloween is about having fun and dressing up, but why not throw in a message if you’re feeling like it, too? I look forward to seeing the Joan of Arcs, Hellen Kellers, Serena Williams, and more.

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The 80’s

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When in doubt, go ‘80s. I mean 1980s, but 1780s and 1880s would be neat, too. With popular shows like ‘Glow’ and ‘The Goldbergs' highlighting the best part of the 1980s: the fashion, inspiration is always easy to find. Bonus points: this route is great for the DIY’er that can head to the thrift store and put together their own costume in a crunch.

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Popular Familiar Characters

Whether it’s from a classic book, movie, or some other reference, familiar characters are always fun to see on Halloween — especially those that you don’t see too often, or that are nostalgic for you. For example, as a child of the ‘80s, I absolutely love seeing costumes like Teen Wolf, Punky Brewster, or Madonna. Anything that takes me back to my childhood. Other popular characters at the time are great, too. Pennywise from ‘It’ will likely be a big one this year. Harry Potter, Mister Rogers, and Stranger Things references are sure to pop up as well.

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Video Games

I’m biased toward a couple specific video games, but Fortnite costumes will definitely be a popular one this year (guessing Skull Trooper will be the most worn one.) Dead by Daylight costumes would be awesome to see, too. Other popular ones that come to mind are Mario and Luigi, and Link or Zelda from The Legend of Zelda. The plus with these costumes is that many people might already have them for cosplay events.

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Horror

And finally, horror. My favorite type of costume. After all, isn’t that what Halloween is all about? Spooky, scary stuff? You can’t go wrong with a classic scary costume either. These are the costumes that to me, require a lot of great makeup application, but done right are the best costume. Sure, you can buy a Jason Voorhees mask and call it a day, but if you really want to go hard this Halloween, create your own horror character or copy an already existing character so accurately that it’s frightening.

Hopefully this list provides a little spark of creativity in your Halloween costume planning. Tweet us @ThinPigMedia with your Halloween costume idea for 2018!

 

Video Resolution VS. Frames Per Second

Not a day goes by now when we don't talk about video at least once, so we thought we would re-run this popular blog post from last year on video resolution.  Happy filming!

When shooting on your phone, you have several options for the video resolution and the frames per second (Ffps) you shoot. For example, here are the options an iPhone offers:

  • 720p HD at 30 fps

  • 1080p at 30 fps

  • 1080p at 60fps

  • 4K at 30 fps

Firstly, all these resolutions are considered HD. Realistically, most of the footage you shoot will end up being viewed on a computer, tablet or mobile device and not on a TV or movie screen, so any of these resolutions will suffice. In the past few years, 4K has become somewhat of a buzz word and the initial inclination might be to film at 4K since it is the highest resolution and much talked about. The truth, however, is that not many devices support 4K outside of TVs, and often it is indiscernible from other HD resolutions. Instead, when making the decision, you should consider what flexibility you want when you edit. There are two main options you might want when editing, and deciding which is more important will help your decision. 

The post-production benefit of 4K is the option to zoom in without losing resolution. In short, 4K is a resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 lines. 1080p is a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. You can think of a 4K video as being comprised of four 1080p videos in a grid. The following image helps visualize this:

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Where the post-production flexibility exists is if you are far away from what you are filming in 4K, you can crop the image to show just 25% of what is filmed and the end cropped video will still be 1080p. The following image helps visualize this:

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A general rule to follow is that it is always better to “zoom with your feet” - meaning walk closer to your subject rather than zooming on your camera or later while editing, but sometimes you don’t have that luxury shooting in 4k can provide great options later in editing.

The second flexibility you will want to consider relates to frames per second. The quick explanation is that video is essentially a series of photos quickly flickering on the screen which we perceive as movement. Perhaps the most standard rate of images moving on screen is 30 frames (or single images) being shown each second - this is the 30 fps rate. By shooting at 60 fps you gain the flexibility of slowing down the footage by 50% in post-production while still outputting 30 fps. When shooting at 30 fps, slowing down footage will start appearing jittery to the viewer and is quite distracting. Why would you want to slow down footage? Often when you are filming while moving (walking towards your subject, panning over your subject, etc.) your footage will be a bit bouncy. But by slowing it down, the movement becomes much smoother and professional looking. With some new phone models now providing 240 fps at 1080p you can really make any footage look great!

A final consideration, however is storage space. Different recording formats will take up different amounts of storage on your mobile device. When filming with your phone, it is always best to try to free up as much space as possible so you don’t run out of storage in the middle of filming. But sometimes trimming too much space is difficult and you need to be conservative with how much space your footage takes. Below is a chart which shows for the iPhone how much each format takes up in space. Different devices might vary, but the general comparison between formats will be similar on different devices.

One minute of video is approximately:

  • 60 MB with 720p at 30 fps

  • 130 MB with 1080p at 30 fps

  • 1750 MB with 1080p at 60fps

  • 350 MB with 4K at 30 fps

Next time you are filming with your mobile device, consider what flexibility you will want in post-production - whether that is the ability to zoom in or slow down your camera movement to be smoother. Understanding how you will use your footage later, will immensely help guide how you film. 

 

Technology in Schools: Making Kids (and Parents) Lives Easier

It’s that time of the year again. A fun summer with lazy days and adventures has come to an end and the kids are back at school. For those of you with children, you know that this time of year usually means a crazy amount of shopping for school clothes, school supplies, new shoes, backpacks and for those with kids in an after-school sport or band there is the added expenses of an instrument, a choir outfit or sports gear. It’s the time of the year I dread. Not because of all the shopping, (confession: I find that fun), and not because the kids go back to school, because let’s face it: Two and a half months of 24/7 non-stop parenting…er…bonding is enough to drive any sane person crazy. No, what I absolutely hate the most are the mountains of paper that are brought home that first week of school. I spend tedious hours of filling out page after page and reading piles of paper filled with important information about this, that and the other.

However, after nine years of being a part of this show, I am happy to say that it has become much easier. Not because I am now a pro at the game, but because of social media and other very helpful apps. This year, for instance I did most of my back to school clothes shopping online. Well-placed retargeting ads from brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, and Nike popped up with deals not to be missed while I was on Facebook connecting with my Facebook friends. Going onto their sites and selecting clothing items by a click of a finger made shopping for my kiddos a breeze.

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Gone are the days where your kids can come home and claim that there’s no homework for tomorrow or that they didn’t know there was a test. Remind, a helpful app used by many teachers and schools has you covered. At back-to-school orientation, teachers will give you their Remind class sign up info, and from here on you will receive everything you need to know about that class sent directly to your phone to be viewed at your convenience: Homework, reminders for quizzes, reminders for tests and retakes of tests etc. will be posted here. Teachers will also advise of classroom projects and due dates. The app is a lifesaver and makes keeping track of your children’s school activities and homework so much easier. Simply download the app and sign up for each of your kids’ classes and you are golden.

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How many of you have heard, “I got 97% on my Science test” or “I have straight As in History” only to be surprised later that the report card shows no evidence of such academic glory, but rather paints a picture of gloom? HAC (Home Access Center), a system used by our schools, gives you access to every single class your child is taking, current grades and also retake grades. To make it even more convenient for you, teachers will post in Remind when your child’s grades have been updated in HAC.

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New this year to our school district is the option to receive voicemail messages about your child sent directly to your phone in an email for your convenience. It can’t get much easier than that. I received one from the school transportation office advising the school bus was running late due to weather and another that pertained to my son. For people my age, it’s very convenient not having to look for your readers and instead just press play in order to retrieve the message.

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Google Classroom is huge for todays’ schools. Students use Google Classroom for almost every single homework assignment, tests, quizzes, retests, projects etc., and they store their homework in the Google Drive. This makes it very easy for when your kid(s) have been off sick and need to catch up on schoolwork or if you’re taking vacation during school days. It also stores all your kids’ homework so you eliminate the “my dog ate my homework” scenario. Students can access the drive and their assignments from anywhere, and in the case of my children, enable them to work on their homework directly from their phones on the way home from school.

Twitter is a platform that is frequently used to communicate with students and parents alike. Teachers use the platform to connect with informal professional networks or to find links for educational resources. Often photos of class projects, a field trips or fun happenings in the classroom are posted here. My kids all follow their teachers on Twitter and love it when they are the star of the day. For more on Twitter in the educational world see our blog post “Tweet for #Education”.

Look, I am realistic. Trying to stay ahead of my kids when it comes to technology was a battle I started losing when the first one turned nine years old. But thankfully schools have worked hard to embrace technology, not only for parent communication, but also for engaging students to learn in an era where they must compete with YouTube and Social Media. I am grateful for that, because that is the world they will be living and working in when their school days are over. So now if you’ll excuse me, I am going to check Twitter to see if the buses are running on time today. Then I am going to feed my dogs, because there is no longer any homework for them to eat.

Adventures in Creative Distribution: Promoting Indie Films on Twitter

Here at Thin Pig we’re busy ramping up for the theatrical release of SADIE, a feature film that’s currently playing at film festivals around the country. We’re part of SADIE’s '“creative distribution” campaign, focused on theatrical ticket sales, followed by Video On Demand orders. Creative distribution is new territory for both filmmakers and marketers so we thought we’d share a few ideas and lessons from our adventures on Twitter.

First off, what is creative distribution? Basically, if a film is finished but the filmmakers aren’t happy with their distribution offers from studios and distributors, they can opt to take matters into their own hands. They have to find creative ways to book their own cinema screenings, lobby for their own press coverage, drive online sales through iTunes, visit colleges around the country—and find the time to build an authentic audience of followers (and hopefully ticket buyers) on all major social media platforms.

Needless to say, SADIE producers Lacey Leavitt and Jennessa West, along with writer/director Megan Griffiths, have their hands full. That’s where Thin Pig comes in. We’re finding ways to build buzz about the film in the markets where it will screen theatrically, as well as starting online conversations about SADIE’s themes.

The story of SADIE packs an emotional punch, intertwining personal stories with relevant issues like violence in schools, the opioid addiction, and single parenting in this cultural climate. As a result, we have a myriad of conversation starters to create emotional connections on social media.

We could go on at length about what we’ve learned already on Facebook and Instagram, but for today we want to list five ways you can utilize Twitter to promote an independent film. First off, follow Thin Pig and SADIE on Twitter!


Now, check out these tips:

1. Videos & GIFs

As you may know, video is the bee’s knees right now in terms of which content types are most relevant in social algorithms. We’re incredibly lucky to be working with a film production that includes an editor for this campaign. The SADIE team has delivered some stellar video content:

Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes



Cast Interviews


Moody GIFs featuring music by the film’s composer, Mike McCready from Pearl Jam.

2. Public Relations

Any product release - especially movies - needs to include strong consideration of press, such as popular media and bloggers. Earning positive previews, interviews, and reviews can legitimize a film like nothing else. So when press is released, it’s important for the PR team to communicate with the social media team to make the most of it:

3. Blog

Not every business is right for blogging, but Indie films always have a good story to tell about the making of the film. A blog is the perfect way to pull the curtain back with longer-form content. What’s more, SADIE is pioneering new paths through creative distribution so we’re sharing news and insights along the way:

4. Hashtags

Hashtags can be a powerful tool, but only if they’re used in strategic ways. Too often we see accounts making up hashtags but not being consistent with them, or finding popular hashtags to engage with but quickly abandoning them. SADIE was made mostly by women, so we make good use of #womeninfilm and #femalefilmmakerfriday:

We found one day that #ActorsWithDayJobs was Trending, so we hopped on the bandwagon with a positive message:

5. RTs

The most basic way to mingle with like-minded Twitter users about an Indie flick is to Retweet when we see something relevant to our film or target audience, like our cast and crew members or industry news:

We hope you find these ideas as interesting as we do! A big wave of creative distribution is emerging, and Thin Pig wants to be on it.