Campaign firm wants to skip disclosures for mobile ads

A liberal campaign firm wants to be able to display political ads on mobile devices without including the usual disclosure statement.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Wednesday, Revolution Messaging argues that the disclosure rules make it impossible for campaigns to advertise on small smartphone screens.

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“Many of our clients have been unable to take advantage of mobile advertising capabilities after being told they need to include a disclaimer. It’s an impossible request because the disclaimer would end up larger than the ad itself,” Keegan Goudiss, the firm's head of digital advertising, said in a statement. 

The FEC requires ads to state which campaign or group is paying for the message, and outside groups must state whether the message was authorized by the candidate. The agency requires that print disclosures be "clearly readable."  

Revolution Messaging notes that the FEC already exempts bumper stickers, pins, buttons and other small items from the disclosure requirements.

"These mobile advertisements are 'small' under any reasonable definition of 'small.' In fact, these advertisements are physically far smaller than other items expressly exempt from the disclosure requirements because due to their physical size," the firm writes in the filing.

Smartphones have exploded in popularity in recent years, and many Americans rely on mobile devices as their only way to access the Internet. About 56 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone of some kind, according to the most recent Pew Center study. 

The growing popularity of mobile computing makes it an attractive target for advertisers, including political campaigns.