Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital ad investment across the political spectrum. Each week, we look at whose digital spending is up, whose is down, and whose is non-existent.
For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
There are 381 days until the Iowa Caucuses, but there are already seven (or eight?) candidates who have officially entered the race for the Democratic nomination. We took a look at where they start out, and what they’re prioritizing in the early days of their campaigns.
And stick around until the end, because we uncovered one Democrat playing the real long game.
By the numbers
Here’s a list of the top political spenders on Facebook the week of January 6 – 12 and the causes they’re advocating for. Donald Trump’s campaign continues to outspend any other organization or cause, and while Tom Steyer said he’s officially not running for president, he’s back as a top Facebook spender this week for his “Need to Impeach” effort.
Deep Dive – The Field
Seven Democratic candidates have officially entered the race for president – eight if you count Sherrod Brown’s “Dignity of Work” tour across Iowa. This week, we began to track how these campaigns match up to one another in their early days (or maybe not-so-early days), and where – or how – they’re investing their resources.
While we could not get total investment amount for Gillibrand’s exploratory committee or Brown’s PAC because they announced so recently, we’ll continue to track the investments of all declared candidates on Facebook as their campaigns continue and as others get in the race.
Trend alert : The “casual” campaign video
Perhaps taking a nod from AOC or Beto, a number of declared Democratic candidates are putting money behind selfie style, less “produced” videos – in cars, backstage, or in their homes – to reach voters and build their brand. This shift is exciting to us as it demonstrates an understanding by these campaigns that the more authentic and native their digital content feels, the more online audiences are likely to engage with it.
Bonus – The 2024 play?
As we trove the Facebook ad archive this week, we stumbled upon one Democrat running hundreds of ads across the country to build his email list – but he’s not one of the nearly-40 potential presidential candidates we’ve been tracking…at least he wasn’t until now.
No, it’s not Tom Steyer. It’s newly-elected California Governor Gavin Newsom. During January 12-16th, Newsom ran hundreds of ads not just in California, but also heavily targeting Texas, Ohio, Florida, and New York.
His ads focused on a range of issues, from the border wall debate to health care, all geared towards building up his lists. While it’s unlikely he’s jumping into the 2020 race, maybe it’s an early play for 2024? Check out a couple examples:
That’s all for this week.
But before you go click the button below if you’d be interested in listening to a five minute podcast where we dig deeper into our weekly FWIW topics and findings with special guests.