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 the country in crisis, new polls and forecasts are showing Donald Trump losing to Joe Biden in key states around the country. But polling isn’t the only place where Joe Biden’s up this week – his campaign shocked many, ourselves included, by dramatically increasing their spending on digital advertising, especially on Facebook. We’ll dig into those numbers and more below.
2020, BY THE NUMBERS
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $69 million on Facebook and Google advertising alone since the 2018 midterm elections. The Biden campaign has spent $28.7 million on those same platforms since launching last spring. Here’s how much each campaign spent on Facebook and Google last week.
As you’ve probably heard, the Biden campaign spent a sh*t ton of money – nearly $5 million – last week on Facebook ads, making it their largest spend in a 7-day period ever. The vast majority of that spend was on fundraising and email acquisition, and their Digital Director reported last week that they gained 1.2 million new email addresses in just under a week.
Out of the $4.9 million they spent on Facebook ads last week, $627,000 of that was in the five swing states we’re tracking below, and at least $50,000 was put behind these powerful video ads to swing-state voters.
Anyway, here are the rest of the top political spenders on Facebook last week:
What’s the Trump campaign been up to? Well, they continued to buy TV ads in Washington, DC, just so Donald sees them and realizes they are doing something to stop a Biden victory. They’re also returning to in-person campaigning next week, but not before asking their supporters to not sue them in case they get coronavirus at a rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth. 🙄
Their campaign has continued to spend heavily on Google though – here are the top political advertisers on the platform last 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 31st to June 6th:
While these numbers are all Facebook spending, we wanted to note that the LCV Victory Fund is also up in Arizona and North Carolina with anti-Trump Snapchat ads targeting women:
In several of these states, we noticed Tax March has begun spending heavily on Facebook ads against the President too. You can view their ads here.
JOE VS. MARK
While the Biden campaign began spending record amounts of money on Facebook last week, they also took aim at the social media giant for some of their bizarre policies that favor Trump. Through #MoveFastFixIt (which is a play on Facebook’s notorious staff mantra “move fast and break things”), they’re gathering petition signatures and demanding Facebook crack down on misinformation and ensure a fair election.
Speaking of notorious, Facebook and Zuckerberg can’t seem to stay out of the news these days so this could be a powerful acquisition play for the campaign. Regardless, we couldn’t agree more with the call-to-action, Team Joe.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
The calls for justice and action in response to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd aren’t only playing out in the streets, but all over the internet too. Black activists and organizations have innovated new digital organizing strategies to fuel the movement and push for defunding the police, among other demands. And our Senate FYI newsletter this week looked at how U.S. Senate campaigns are responding to (or ignoring) the issue.
In addition to the many groups we highlighted last week, we also wanted to uplift the work of the Black Male Voter Project, which is specifically working to increase Black men’s participation in the electoral process. Check them out + donate here.
NEW EXIT INTERVIEWS
In this week’s FWIW Exit Interviews, we talked to Julián Castro’s digital manager and Cory Booker’s photographer about their experiences on the digital campaign trail. Here’s a quick preview of our interview with Paris Moran, who made sure to foster an ethos of inclusivity throughout the Castro campaign’s digital strategy:
“It’s really important that you take space and make space…Movements are about doing things together. And that’s kind of the only way that you were going to be able to do that. I think taking risks in investing time and energy into platforms, audiences, and communities that are historically underappreciated is super important. This kind of dedication just strengthens your overall message even more and your candidate and the way that people view them. This is how you build coalitions and reach people that are often forgotten.”
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!