Accountability Recommendations for Paid Political Communications Online

(October 16, 2017, Washington, DC) — Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), which has served as the largest marketer for the Democratic party over nearly a decade, has outlined a series of guidelines for how regulators and advertising platforms can address the challenges of accountability and transparency behind paid political communications online. Given the troubling stories about fake news and foreign actors influencing the 2016 election and the complexity of digital advertising, BPI has launched an effort to educate both industry and regulators about the online political ad market and offer recommendations of how to address concerns at

Challenges that BPI sees within the political online ad market include: 1.) The difficulty in ascertaining what organization is running each ad, what ads are being run, what each group really stands for, and what is being spent. 2.) Fake accounts and bots that impersonate voters and stifle discourse. 3.) The distribution of political information and news by non-campaign entities and actors through online paid advertising.

Recommendations for regulators and ad platforms to guide a modern approach to future regulation of political communications: 1.) Entity Verification: For political advertisers, it is important that the companies behind online advertising platforms verify the legal organizational identity of the end client (not just the advertising agency). 2.) Enhanced Ad Disclosure: Implement a new disclosure icon that is visible alongside every political ad run online and allows people to see critical information about the sponsor including a) legal disclaimer and b) short description of the organization’s purpose. 3.) Centralized Reporting: Ad platforms should publicly house all of the creative being served by an advertiser in one central place. Additionally, we recommend that campaigns be required to disclose total digital ad spend by month and eventually by week. 4.) Stop Use of Bots that Impersonate Voters: Fake social accounts run by bots that attempt to mimic the appearance of actual voters inherently undermine the principle of thoughtful disagreement in our democracy which stems from voters speaking to one another. Campaigns should not be allowed to use bots without clear disclosure.

BPI has worked for nearly a decade with political candidates, committees, and independent expenditures. BPI believes that the adoption of these initial guidelines is both achievable and will have a dramatic effect in restoring confidence in political communications around elections. For more information as well as what these recommendations could look like in sample ads, please visit:

BPI spokespeople are available for interviews upon request.

About BPI
 Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI) is a digitally based marketing and communications agency that wins hearts and changes minds for companies and causes. We communicate without barriers and measure what matters. We specialize in public affairs, corporate reputation and social impact. We simplify the complex, shift public opinion, manage in a crisis, position brands and drive effective global campaigns for our clients. Since we started in 2009, we have applied the lessons of politics to brands and supported over 400 clients across multiple continents. These include 8% of FORTUNE 100 companies, Presidents, Senators and Prime Ministers, as well as several of the top non-profits around the world.

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