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.
New year, new us. We’re back from our much-needed holiday break, and today’s issue is well worth the wait. While many of you may be preparing for tonight’s primetime address, we’ve broken down how Donald Trump’s campaign has been laying the groundwork for it online for days.
By the numbers Here’s a list of the top political spenders on Facebook the week of December 30 – January 5 and the causes they’re advocating for. We noticed Donald Trump’s campaign spending doubled this past week from the week before the holidays. Wonder why ?.
Deep Dive (or maybe Steep Climb?) – The Wall This week, we looked at how border security, wall funding and the government shutdown was playing out in online advertising. Here’s what we found today, leading up to President Trump’s primetime address:
Trump’s Not-So-Secret Play Since late December, Donald Trump has consistently been running online ads highlighting border security and wall funding to both build lists and fundraise. Here are two examples of ads that have been running for the past few weeks:
What you may not have noticed, however, is that Trump hasn’t just been driving the conversation around the wall on Facebook or Twitter. Over the weekend, Trump’s campaign bought the YouTube masthead for an entire day. That’s the largest single ad placement an organization or candidate can make online.
The Masthead Matters Ad inventory for the YouTube masthead is some of the most expensive and heavily coveted ad space. It’s the single highest-trafficked ad inventory space online – anyone who goes to the YouTube homepage would have seen this ad at the top of their screen (mobile, app and desktop). In online terms, you can think of it similarly to buying a television ad during the Superbowl.
According to Ad Week, these ads cost between $300K – $400K per day, and that was back in 2015, so you can only imagine how much pricier the ads are today.
While the targeting is less precise than other ads, masthead ads get tens of millions of impressions in a 24 hour period, and YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile alone than any broadcast or cable TV network. This may be part of the reason why the video Trump’s campaign was advertising now has over 10 million views – and it shows that they’ve been laying the groundwork for days to frame the government shutdown conversation on Trump’s terms.
Another important angle to consider – a growing proportion of YouTube content is consumed by people through their television sets. So this ad served not only as a “digital” ad, but also could be seen similar to a broadcast television ad for those who watch YouTube content through their TV’s.
An Unconventional Approach On the left, multiple organizations and electeds are running traditional list-building ads in opposition to Trump’s border wall. However, we noticed one unconventional ad related to the border wall from MoveOn.org:
There’s indication that the butterflies could be working: of the approximately 60 Facebook ads MoveOn.org is running opposing Trump’s border wall, over half of them use this message – as opposed to a more traditional approach like this one:
Bonus – It’s Award Season It appears that award season has infiltrated Facebook’s political ad realm. We saw that one of the top spenders in political Facebook ads this week were ads promoting On the Basis of Sex, the motion picture portraying Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s early life and career. And another of this week’s top political spenders: International Rescue Committee, is running ads featuring Meryl Streep urging viewers to support the organization. Here are a couple of examples: