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.
The week began with the president’s low-rating convention providing little to no “convention bump” for his campaign, but maybe the real bump was felt most in the Biden campaign’s wallet. In the month of August, Biden brought in over $364m, shattering records. In this week’s FWIW, we take a look at the Biden campaign’s large haul online, the latest ad policy nonsense from Facebook, and more.
2020, BY THE NUMBERS
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $159.9 million on Facebook + Google advertising since the midterm elections. Joe Biden has spent $81.1 million advertising on those same platforms. Here’s how much each campaign spent just last week:
As the election swiftly approaches, both campaigns are throwing major ad dollars online to raise more money, recruit more supporters, and get their content in front of key voters. The Trump campaign continues to use much of their dollars to brand Biden as a tool of the “radical left” running video ads like the one below in multiple swing states:
Meanwhile, on Facebook, the Biden campaign is aiming to persuade and mobilize their voters. In Michigan, they’re running local testimonial ads from voters about back-to-school season, and in Arizona, they’re already urging Arizonans to get ready to vote by mail in English and Spanish.
FWIW, here are the rest of the top spenders on Facebook last week:
Here’s what last week looked like in terms of Google advertising:
Finally, while Facebook and Google are a huge part of digital advertising budgets, we also wanted to look at other platforms heading into Election Day. We heard Roku will be launching a political ads library soon, and Snapchat has always been a fave platform of ours. Here’s how much candidates have spent on Snapchat ads this year so far. Note: we’re excluding spending from the presidential primary and from issue advocacy groups that don’t directly mention voting, Trump, or the election:
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 August 23 – August 29:
THE WEEKLY ROUND-UP
Small-dollar donors make it rain for Joe Biden
This week, we learned that the Biden campaign raised a mind-boggling $364 million in August alone. According to an email the campaign sent to supporters, 95% of that came from grassroots donors, and more than 1.5 MILLION of those donors were first-time givers last month. Just to put this in perspective: in 2008, John McCain raised $383 million over the course of his entire campaign.
Raising money at this rate, they’ll be able to continue to go toe-to-toe with Trump wherever they need, and their campaign is moving full speed ahead. They make multi-channel fundraising asks of their supporters multiple times a day through email, SMS, Facebook ads, Google, and elsewhere. Kudos to Biden’s digital and fundraising teams for pulling this off.
Fighting sexist and racist disinformation coming for Kamala Harris 🏾
Yesterday, Facebook announced a new policy change that no one asked for: they’re going to block all new political ads in the week before November 3rd. That means that no one is going to be able to put money behind new content to counter breaking news or Trump’s shenanigans in the final days leading up to Election Day. The massive organic reach of the Trump campaign and right-wing figures like Ben Shapiro is a built-in structural advantage that progressive groups and Democrats will be less prepared to counter without ads.
As ACRONYM CEO + Founder Tara McGowan told numerous outlets yesterday: “A weeklong blackout of new political ad creative before the most important election in our nation’s history is a shallow and dangerous public relations move, not a solution to the spread of election misinformation and violence-inciting hate speech that has proliferated under Facebook’s watch.”
Right-wing sites like Breitbart, Federalist, and the Daily Caller who Facebook has deemed as “verified news publishers,” reach millions of voters with lies and misinformation every day on Facebook without spending a dollar on advertising. Facebook is now tipping the scales in their favor.
CHEAT SHEET FOR THE VOTING BOOTH
This week on Cheat Sheet for the Voting Booth, a new web series by PACRONYM + Generator Collective, host Ilana Glazer spoke with “Orange is the New Black” star and AZ native Kimiko Glenn and comedy legend Wanda Sykes of PA about what’s at stake in each of these battleground states and why they are maybe not stoked but SO down to vote for Joe Biden. Check it out and take a beat to LOL this weekend.
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’re one of the over 14,000 people who enjoy reading FWIW each week, give us a follow on Twitter, and help get out the word by forwarding this email to two friends who care about democracy + the money that influences it.