EACA submits response to the public consultation on sponsored political content.

In our response to the public consultation, we highlight the following main points:

Any attempt at defining political advertising must clearly distinguish it from other types of commercial communications (advertising).

Political advertising should not include any form of commercial communications seeking to promote products, services or the image of a brand that are related to influencing consumers’ transactional decisions.

Obligations on political advertising should only apply to the person or entity that pays for the display or promotion of a political ad (i.e., the “political advertisers”), clearly excluding commercial advertisers from their scope.

Agencies that are involved in political advertising abide by national regulations. Some agencies are not involved in political advertising at all and should not inadvertently come into the scope of legislation on political advertising. Also, we believe that the time/period within which the ad is placed is irrelevant.

Besides, there should be no further fragmentation by putting in place additional, specific regulation around the European Parliament election. This will lead to confusion by voters, service providers and authorities and make the whole system even more complex. Instead, rules on political advertising should be harmonised across the EU.

Also, any attempt at defining issue-based ads or issue-ads should, again, clearly distinguish such ads or messaging from commercial communications or purpose-driven marketing that focuses on societal issues.

We support the introduction of a political transparency icon, following the example of the US-based Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). We believe that publishers of political ads should retain, at a minimum, information on the fact that this is a political ad, the sponsor, the amount spent, the duration of the ad, and the targeting parameters used.

We do not see any need to ban certain advertising practices or techniques. The GDPR is the guiding rule book here and transparency the key to allowing citizens to make a judgment about the political ads they see.

Our full position paper can be found here.