Skip to main content

Targeting and amplification in online political advertising

The online ad ecosystem is driven by two processes: targeting – advertisers picking who should see their ad – and amplification – platforms’ algorithms picking a select audience from within this targeted group. While these are two parts o- the same process, they are very different
in nature and pose different challenges when used in political advertising.

Yet the European Commission’s proposal -or a Regulation on the transparency and targeting o- political advertising (the ‘Regulation’ hereinafter) does not clearly define both processes, nor does the Commission differentiate between both processes in the proposal -or a regulation.Adding to this is the systemic failure by authorities to enforce the GDPR, which poses policy dilemmas that
must be addressed in this Regulation, but are not tackled in the proposal.

In this paper, we present the proposed Regulation of the use of data in political advertising and advocate for an alternative approach that considers ‘targeting’ and ‘amplifcation’ separately and privileges a pragmatic understanding of the GDPR over a legalistic one.

This paper is the second of a series of policy briefs on online political advertising and the regulatory proposal.