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.
Yesterday, the Trump campaign released its new + improved campaign app with a splashy video worthy of an Apple product launch. Meanwhile, the Biden campaign continues spending heavily on online advertising – becoming the top political spender on Facebook and Google last week. More on that below, in this week’s FWIW.
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $52.8 million on Facebook and Google since the 2018 midterm elections. Joe Biden has spent a total of $18.2 million on those platforms since launching his campaign. Here’s how much each campaign spent on Facebook last week:
TRUMP VS. BIDEN SPENDING, 4/12 – 4/18
Joe Biden’s campaign narrowly edged out Trump’s spending on Google and Facebook last week. Since Super Tuesday, he’s spent heavily on fundraising ads on Facebook to build out his general election operation. Here are the top 10 spenders on Facebook last week:
TOP POLITICAL AD SPENDERS ON FACEBOOK NATIONWIDE LAST WEEK
The Biden campaign, who the media has been quick to label as not doing enough online, released an absolutely savage new ad hitting back at Trump for his relentless pivot to anti-China messaging. It immediately gained millions of views across digital platforms, and they ultimately threw the video into their Facebook ad program, targeting voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
At the same time, the Trump campaign continues to double-down on their anti-China message pivot:
TOP POLITICAL AD SPENDERS ON GOOGLE + YOUTUBE NATIONWIDE LAST WEEK
To get a better picture of the electoral impact of all this spending – we’re going to start taking a look at how the campaigns + major outside groups are spending to reach actual voters in the states that will tip the balance of the election. Each week, we’ll break down Facebook spending in key presidential battleground states, beginning with Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. As the race heats up, this list of states could grow or change based on polling and spending trends by campaigns + outside groups, but these are the ones we’re tracking most closely today. Here we go:
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING IN ARIZONA, 4/12 – 4/18
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING IN NORTH CAROLINA, 4/12 – 4/18
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING IN WISCONSIN, 4/12 – 4/18
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING IN MICHIGAN, 4/12 – 4/18
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SPENDING IN PENNSYLVANIA, 4/12 – 4/18
SPREADING LIES? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT.
The Trump campaign officially launched their new Trump 2020 app yesterday with a splashy video worthy of an Apple product launch. We went ahead and downloaded the app so you don’t have to hand over your data – here’s what we noticed:
First and maybe most importantly, upon downloading the app the campaign immediately asks for a supporter’s cell phone number, requiring users to opt-in for text message communications before getting started. Even if that supporter never logs into the app again, the campaign will have collected a critical piece of data that they can use in the future. Other campaign apps we’ve seen, including the Biden campaign’s “Team Joe” app, requires new users to fill out at least six fields and create a password to log in.
Once in, the app has powerful features to keep supporters engaged. The campaign feeds followers talking points via their news tab, shares an endless stream of events for people to attend, and gamifies outreach and involvement by giving supporters points that they can redeem for rewards.
That said, this type of volunteer organizing is typically the bread and butter of the Democratic party, made famous by former President Obama’s campaigns, but as Bloomberg noted last week, Biden’s “Team Joe” app could use a little bit of work to catch up.
Facebook is now displaying the location of “high-reach” pages on both Facebook and Instagram in order to help users getter a better understanding of the reliability of the source on their feeds. Facebook says that this change is meant to increase transparency and protect elections. As we’ve said time and time again – the organic spread of misinformation on Facebook is an enormous problem that remains mostly unresolved ahead of November’s election. It’s a tiny step forward, but we’ll take what we can get at this point.
We’ve also seen more organizations adapt to hold virtual events and engage their supporters wherever they are, whether its on zoom calls, IG Live, or through online video games. Some organizations like NextGen, are even throwing virtual raves.
That’s it for FWIW this week… but before you go, please forward this email to at least one friend because sharing is caring – and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter! 🤓