The First Thing I Do When Creating a NationBuilder Website

I don’t want anyone finding and publishing my client’s in-development website on Twitter. I know my clients don’t want it to happen, either.

That’s why, when I create a new NationBuilder account or a new website on an existing NationBuilder account, the first thing I do is create a private workspace — with triple redundancies to make sure it’s secure.

How do I do it? By changing three standard settings in the Site settings > Basics section of my NationBuilder website.

First, Create a “Hard To Guess” Site Slug

Every NationBuilder website has a “site slug:” a prefix to its URL that makes it unique. NationBuilder prepends it to the URL like this: [site_slug]-[nation_slug].nationbuilder.com.

While your first instinct is to make this “site slug” a short, easily remembered word, I want you to fight that instinct. Instead, think of it as a password. The harder it is to guess, the less likely someone uninvited will find your development site.

My approach is to use random.org’s String Generator to create a long, random slug for my sites (ex: “cmi4mpbmwwm35ej6anyl”), but any hard-to-guess slug will work.

Note: Once you have connected a custom domain to your site, the “site slug” is hidden and no longer relevant. A password-like slug will have no impact on the long-term public URL for your website.

Next, Lock Down The Website

By default, NationBuilder websites are visible to “everyone” (i.e., they’re publicly accessible right out of the box).

I want my development sites to be visible to “control panel users” only — and, if there are an unusually large number of control panel users, possibly to “admins” only. That way, only my client’s senior team can see and interact with the site during its development phase.

Fortunately, this is an easy change to make.

While still within the Site settings > Basics section of your control panel, scroll down until you see the “Who can view this site?” dropdown menu on the lefthand side. Change this setting from “Anyone” to “Control panel users.”

Then, Disallow Search Engines

While the above two steps will lock our site down from curious visitors, this last step will prevent search engines like Google or Yahoo from adding your development website to search results.

Just below the “Who can view this site?” dropdown is a checkbox labeled “Allow search engines.” Uncheck it.

Now, when Bing, Google, Yahoo, and other search engines find your site, they’ll recognize that you want privacy and respect it by not including you in search results.

Finally, Save Your Settings

Once you’ve made these changes, scroll down to the bottom of the page and hit the blue “Save site” button.

Then, try opening your new development website URL in an incognito browser window. You won’t be able to reach it (instead, you should see a login screen). That means it worked!

Now, you’re ready to begin the work of building your new website in private. Your opponents won’t be able to find your site, and even if they do, they won’t be able to see it.

FEC chair makes another go at regulating online political ads

Karl Evers-Hillstrom writing for Open Secrets:

Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub is proposing rules that would require some online political ads to attach a disclaimer describing who is paying for them.

The proposed rules — similar to measures introduced by the FEC last year — would subject paid online ads to similar disclaimer rules as print, television and radio ads. Increasingly popular social media ads, including those engaging in electioneering communications that mention a candidate shortly before an election, are currently exempt from including disclaimers under federal law.

Disclaimers on digital ads are complicated. The size and format of promoted digital content can vary dramatically, and advertising platforms are regularly developing new ad formats. For example, how do you disclaim a promoted tweet or a sponsored Facebook post w/ an image carousel? Anything useful would cannibalize the entire available content area.

I’m skeptical that the FEC can create uniform guidelines for disclaimers that are both practical and useful to the public, particularly when the software platforms are already responding to political and market pressure with their ad archives and disclaimer rules.

President Trump raises $24.8 million in just 24 hours

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel:

@realDonaldTrump has raised a record breaking $24.8M in less than 24 hours for his re-election. The enthusiasm across the country for this President is unmatched and unlike anything we’ve ever seen! #trump2020 #KeepAmericaGreat

Put that a different way: the president averaged more than $1 million per hour for 24 straight hours.

That’s a staggering sum of money that showcases the professionalization and scale of the Trump 2020 digital operation. It also underscores that years of expensive list building and engagement efforts can pay off in a single big moment.

Your Website Is Not an Art Project

That doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful. But it has to be useful, first.

When you commission a website, odds are that you’re investing serious money to solve a critical need. If it fails to address that need, it doesn’t matter whether the boss likes it — it’s a failure.

I find it helpful to think of a web design brief like a job description. You’re hiring your new website to do a job. What are its duties? How will its performance be measured?

Do you need to convert more signups to your email list, raise more money, persuade voters of your ideas, or convey viability to major donors? Perhaps you need to some combination of these or something else entirely?

Whatever your goals, your website needs to help you achieve them for its expense to be justified. And whether the candidate or executive director personally likes the design rarely has much impact on its effectiveness.

If you design a website that is more beautiful than helpful, you’ll find yourself developing a new one in short order. But a useful website is genuinely a thing of beauty.

How to avoid being marked as spam

It all starts with asking permission. That means you shouldn’t even consider buying an email list or adding people to your database without consent.

When you establish an honest relationship with your subscribers from the very beginning, abuse emails should be foreign to your list.

Read this sound advice on maintaining an email list from Entrepreneur.com.

Does Google not realize Beto O’Rourke is running for president?

QZ has an interesting story about Google allowing Beto O’Rourke’s ads to slip through its political advertising filters:

Google has been treating Beto’s campaign ads as if they weren’t political content, raising questions over whether Google is capable of keeping its already anemic promise of transparency for political ads.

This is by no means the first time Google has broken its own rules about political ads. Google promised Washington state’s attorney general that it would stop selling political ads there, settling a lawsuit over its alleged failure to comply with long-standing state disclosure rules. But it kept selling them anyways. Google says the way to check up on its work is to use its transparency archive—but when ads are missing from the archive, there’s little way of knowing what’s not there.

QZ frames this as a question about whether Google is up to the task of preventing foreign election interference, but I think the more interesting and relevant question is one of bias.

Would Google, whose executives have privately expressed a preference for left-of-center candidates and causes, have made this same sort of “mistake” with a Republican candidate for President of the United States?

UK’s ICO admits its own cookie policy is non-compliant with GDPR

ITPro:

The organisation in charge of regulating UK data laws has confirmed it will be making changes to its cookie policy following complaints that its site was storing data without user consent.

The Information Commissioners Office has admitted that its current consent notice relating to the use of cookies on devices failed "to meet the required GDPR standard".

No, this is not from The Onion. GDPR’s regulations are so burdensome and complex that even the regulatory agency charged with providing public guidance on compliance failed to comply.

Pete Buttigieg raised $7 million in April

POLITICO:

Pete Buttigieg’s campaign jolted its top donors with big news on a conference call last month: The upstart mayor had raised $7 million in the month of April alone, as much as Buttigieg had in his entire eye-catching first quarter in the presidential race.

And the campaign has urged its donors to step on the gas on their own, outside of the candidate’s fundraisers, to help meet its lofty goals, encouraging contests among bundlers to bring in the most cash and reminding them that hefty fundraising was a key factor that legitimized Barack Obama in the early days of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Why leak April fundraising numbers in mid-June? Because the end of June is also the next “End of Quarter” reporting deadline for the Federal Election Commission.

Buttigieg’s team feels like they’re close to putting up a significant number on their Q2 report, but they’re not confident they’ll get there. This leak is designed to put pressure on major donors and pledged donors to get on the train before it leaves the station.

The real question is: how much of that big haul was from big, coastal elite donors, and how much of it was from the grassroots online?

Read more: “Wall Street Donors Are Swooning for Mayor Pete.“

Targeted Victory leans into online fundraising for the NRCC

CNBC:

“I do think there is a realization by the NRCC post-2018 that there needs to be a greater commitment to low-dollar fundraising. These are kind of like elements that add fuel to the fire,” Targeted Victory founder and CEO Zac Moffatt told CNBC in a recent interview at the firm’s offices in Arlington, Virginia. “We have redoubled down and now we are going to be a much larger partner on the marketing side with low-dollar fundraising.”

“What we’re doing is creating as large as possible a first-party data set of people who want to support Republicans from the presidential all the way through the congressional,” he said. “When the time is right, we’ll activate them at scale.”

Targeted Victory has had a long-standing and close relationship with the NRCC, but in past cycles, they haven’t helped lead their online fundraising efforts directly (the committee did that in-house).

Bringing their expertise and large staff on board is a smart move by the committee, whose online fundraising revenues will almost certainly increase as a result.

This announcement does, however, raise significant questions about how committed the NRCC is to using WinRED (i.e., Revv). Historically, Targeted Victory has not shown a willingness to shift its customers away from its donation platform (Victory Passport).

You Get Eighteen Summers

Today is Fathers’ Day in the United States, and I wanted to take a moment to write about fatherhood, work, and priorities.

I became a father ten years ago this September. I was young, brash, and hopeful. At the time, and for years afterward, I defined myself by my job title and career path. But becoming a father changed all of that.

I’ve loved my children from the moment I met them. They’re incredible. But, now that they’re in elementary school, I’ve started to enjoy their company, as well. I don’t just love my children: I like my children. That’s a game changer.

I recently saw an advertisement that read, “You only get eighteen summers with your children. Are you making the most of them?” I think they were trying to sell me a vacation. But, unusually, something in the ad struck a chord: “No,” I thought. “I am not making the most of them. And soon they’ll be gone.”

Now, I’m desperately trying to beat back the constant, urgent demand to Get Things Done so that I can spend time with my kids. That’s why I’m a consultant/freelancer: so that my schedule stays flexible enough that I can be there when they need me. I’m determined to do well by my clients and my children — both.

So many fathers have to work long-distance jobs to care for their children (e.g., migrant workers, oil rig workers, sailors, soldiers). How many birthdays, sports games, and other little moments do they miss while they support their families from afar? And what would they trade to have those moments back?

As I’m stealing a few moments of quiet work early this morning, I’m grateful for my children — certainly. But I’m also thankful for my wife, my family, my clients, and a range of technology companies whose investment in me (big and small) has made it possible for me to spend so much time with my children. 

Happy Fathers’ Day.

Facebook Agrees To Settle Suit Over Inflated Video Ad Metrics

From Wendy Davis on MediaPost:

Facebook has agreed to settle a class-action complaint accusing the company of inflating video metrics by up to 900%, lawyers for marketing agencies told a judge Wednesday.

If accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California, the deal will resolve a legal battle dating to 2016, when marketers alleged that misrepresentations by Facebook resulted in inflated prices for video ads.

I can remember this period: Facebook was aggressively pushing into a phase of competition with YouTube and fighting hard for 2016 campaign advertising dollars.

Just another good cautionary tale to remind digital directors and ad buyers of the adage “buyer beware.” As much as possible, you should measure ROI yourself.

NY Times: Why Is America So Far Behind Europe on Digital Privacy?

Rare is the day when I agree with The New York Times’ Editorial Board, but it happened today:

American lawmakers are late to the party. Europe has already set what amounts to a global privacy standard with its General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018. G.D.P.R. establishes several privacy rights that do not exist in the United States — including a requirement for companies to inform users about their data practices and receive explicit permission before collecting any personal information. 

Although Americans cannot legally avail themselves of specific rights under G.D.P.R., the fact that the biggest global tech companies are complying everywhere with the new European rules means that the technocrats in Brussels are doing more for Americans’ digital privacy rights than their own Congress.

I’ve spent considerable time learning about GDPR’s requirements in support of projects for European clients, and it’s clearly the (likely) future of data privacy in the United States. Smart digital directors will start preparing their clients/employers, now.