Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy in the 2020 elections. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and reach voters. For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
With only 165 days to go until Election Day, the presidential race seems to be heating up. The Trump campaign doubled its spending on Facebook and Google advertising last week, and a major outside group has found a new target: Brad Parscale. More on that below, but first…
2020, BY THE NUMBERS
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $60.3 million on Facebook and Google advertising alone since the 2018 midterm elections. The Biden campaign has spent $21 million on those same platforms since launching last spring. Here’s how much each campaign spent on Facebook and Google last week:
At nearly $3 million dollars, the Trump campaign spent more money last week on Google + Facebook than any other one-week period since we started tracking spending in 2018.
This spending wasn’t just for fundraising, either…the campaign blanketed swing-state voters with anti-Biden video ads on Social Security and China. Moreover, Google’s new-ish transparency features reveal the campaign is targeting nine battleground states with these…including Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia With only 165 days until election day, it remains to be seen if this spending increase was just a short spike, or if it will be a sustained effort.
Liberal groups and PACS, including our own, PACRONYM, have countered the efforts with millions of dollars of ad spending in swing states (more on that below), as the Biden campaign’s ads on the platforms this week were almost exclusively fundraising focused.
In addition to the Trump campaign, here are the top 10 spenders on Google last week nationwide, from May 10 to May 16th:
FWIW, here are the top 10 political ad spenders on Facebook last week:
In addition to an onslaught of video advertising, the Trump campaign has also been using Facebook advertising to promote their high-production value virtual programming, including their take on “The View” to engage women voters, which launched this week. 🙄🤮
Each week, we’re breaking down Facebook spending in key presidential battleground states, beginning with Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Here’s how much the campaigns and major outside groups spent on ads focused on the presidential race from May 10th to May 16th:
In line with their massive national spending increase, the Trump campaign was the largest spender on presidential campaign Facebook ads in all five of the battleground states we’re tracking.
Meanwhile, PACRONYM was the top Democratic spender on presidential election Facebook ads in each state last week.
Their latest wave of ads have begun to pivot to test more economic messaging – highlighting how Trump’s recovery plans have benefitted the rich and powerful, while leaving small businesses high and dry.
EARNING HIS FERRARI…
Over the past year, the Trump campaign has often run ads from multiple pages on Facebook, like “Team Trump” or Mike Pence’s page. Two weeks ago, we noticed they began using Brad Parscale’s own Facebook page to run campaign fundraising and acquisition ads. 🤔 The former Digital Director turned Campaign Manager has long been a leading character in the Trump campaign’s content online, and now it seems, they’re testing his effectiveness as a messenger for advertising too:
It goes without saying, but it’s uncommon for campaign managers to use their own online personas this way, with campaign funds no less. Would Team Biden start running ads from Jenn O’Malley Dillon? Maybe, but Parscale’s fame (or infamy) hasn’t gone unanswered by anti-Trump groups. The Lincoln Project released an amazing new ad this week slamming Brad for his self-dealing, which includes multiple beach houses, a boat, and a Ferrari, and has reportedly irked the President. Rick Wilson from the Lincoln Project sort of outlined their strategy around these types of ads on David Plouffe’s podcast recently, which is definitely worth a listen.
THE EXIT INTERVIEWS
Our team sat down with many of the rank and file staffers behind the 2020 presidential primary’s biggest internet moments so our whole community could learn from some of the best digital strategists driving innovation on our side. We’ll be releasing new content every week, starting this week with interviews with Pete for America’s Stefan Smith and Gillibrand 2020’s Alexis Magnan-Callaway. Watch the interviews here + sign up to be the first to know when new videos are available.
Next week, we’ll have content from Bernie’s Digital Fundraising Director + Pete’s Director of Paid Media!
BEFORE YOU GO…
That’s it for FWIW this week! Before you go, we have one more ask of you. As the general election heats up, it’s more important than ever for our friends and colleagues to stay in the know on what’s happening with the campaign. If you enjoy reading FWIW each week, give us a follow on Twitter, and help get out the word by forwarding this email to two friends!