2022 will be a record year for money spent on political ads. In the digital space, the way these advertisements look has changed with the rise of influencer partnerships with political organizations.
Musician Logan Alexandra is partnered with American Bridge 21st Century–a pro-Biden PAC with a “paid media influencer program.” Candidates and advocacy groups pay these influencers to promote their messaging and get around TikTok’s ban on blatant political ads.
As of August, TikTok has caught on. Now, the app is also banning the paid political content from influencers in an effort to crack down on misinformation. That doesn’t mean these partnerships will disappear, but it does mean personalities like Alexandra likely won’t be tagging their partner companies anymore.
Martin Riedl, with the UT Austin Center for Media Engagement, said Democrats aren’t the only ones working the system.
“I would say that, based on what we’re seen, both parties utilize influencers,” Riedl said.
In December of 2021, the “Make America Great Again PAC” paid an influencer marketing firm, Legendary Campaigns, more than $50,000.
However, not all of these influencers are being paid directly. Conservative youth nonprofit Turning Point USA has very few paid partnerships, according to representatives.
It does, however, have hundreds of ambassadors–who reportedly get other perks like travel stipends.
So there’s a whole spectrum of these political personalities. Some disclose their partnerships and some do not.
“It does make a difference whether I know that someone was paid to communicate a message to me or if they did it voluntarily because one we generally think of as political activism–which is good,” Riedl said. “And the other we think about as political advertising, which is not per se bad, but it is bad if we didn’t know it was advertising.”
LONGWORTH: 2022 WILL BE A RECORD YEAR FOR MONEY SPENT ON POLITICAL ADS – AND THE WAY THOSE ADS LOOK IS CHANGING…
THIS IS A POLITICAL AD TODAY.
MUSICIAN LOGAN ALEXANDRA IS PARTNERED WITH AMERICAN BRIDGE 21ST CENTURY–A PRO-BIDEN PAC WITH A “PAID MEDIA INFLUENCER PROGRAM.”
CANDIDATES AND ADVOCACY GROUPS PAY THESE INFLUENCERS TO PROMOTE THEIR MESSAGING AND GET AROUND TIKTOK’S BAN ON BLATANT POLITICAL ADS.
AS OF AUGUST, TIKTOK HAS CAUGHT ON.
NOW, THE APP IS ALSO BANNING THE PAID POLITICAL CONTENT FROM *INFLUENCERS*…IN AN EFFORT TO CRACK DOWN ON MISINFORMATION.
THAT DOESN’T MEAN THESE PARTNERSHIPS WILL DISAPPEAR, BUT IT DOES MEAN PERSONALITIES LIKE ALEXANDRA LIKELY WON’T BE TAGGING THEIR PARTNER COMPANIES ANYMORE.
MARTIN RIEDL, WITH THE UT AUSTIN CENTER FOR MEDIA ENGAGEMENT, SAYS DEMOCRATS AREN’T THE ONLY ONES WORKING THE SYSTEM.
MARTIN RIEDL: “I WOULD SAY THAT, BASED ON WHAT WE’RE SEEN, BOTH PARTIES UTILIZE INFLUENCERS.”
LONGWORTH: IN DECEMBER OF 2021, THE MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN PAC PAID AN INFLUENCER MARKETING FIRM, LEGENDARY CAMPAIGNS, MORE THAN $50,000.
BUT NOT ALL OF THESE INFLUENCERS ARE BEING PAID DIRECTLY.
CONSERVATIVE YOUTH NONPROFIT TURNING POINT USA HAS VERY FEW PAID PARTNERSHIPS, ACCORDING TO REPRESENTATIVES.
IT DOES, HOWEVER, HAVE HUNDREDS OF AMBASSADORS–WHO REPORTEDLY GET OTHER PERKS LIKE TRAVEL STIPENDS.
@JOIECULIN: “HI GUYS, WELCOME TO A DAY IN MY LIFE AS A POLITICAL INFLUENCER. SO I’M GETTING FLOWN OUT TO WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA, BY TURNING POINT USA BECAUSE I’M AN INFLUENCER FOR THEM.”
LONGWORTH: SO THERE’S A WHOLE SPECTRUM OF THESE POLITICAL PERSONALITIES.
SOME DISCLOSE THEIR PARTNERSHIPS, SOME DON’T.
RIEDL: “IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHETHER I KNOW THAT SOMEONE WAS PAID TO COMMUNICATE A MESSAGE TO ME OR IF THEY DID IT VOLUNTARILY BECAUSE ONE WE GENERALLY THINK OF AS POLITICAL ACTIVISM–WHICH IS GOOD. AND THE OTHER WE THINK ABOUT AS POLITICAL ADVERTISING, WHICH IS NOT PER SE BAD, BUT IT IS BAD IF WE DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS ADVERTISING.”
LONGWORTH: EVEN WITH TIKTOK’S NEW EFFORTS TO CURTAIL THIS ADVERTISING ACROSS THE PLATFORM, POLITICAL CONTENT IS SOMETHING YOU’LL LIKELY STILL SEE FROM INFLUENCERS AS WE GET CLOSER TO NOVEMBER.