Welcome to FWIW, ACRONYM’s weekly newsletter breaking down digital strategy and investments across the political spectrum. Each week, we look at how campaigns are – or aren’t – leveraging smart digital strategies to drive narratives and win elections.
For what it’s worth, some of it might surprise you.
With all-star endorsements, a new political ad transparency tool, and the first Trump campaign Facebook ads mentioning coronavirus – it was another big week in the online race for the White House. We’ll break down what we saw, but first…
2020, by the numbers
Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has spent over $52 million on Facebook and Google advertising alone since the 2018 midterm elections. Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s campaign has spent $16 million on those two platforms.
Yesterday, the Trump campaign started running some of their first Facebook ads mentioning COVID-19, and predictably, they try to distract from the President’s failures by blaming “Chinese propaganda.” 🙄 More on that below.
While the Trump campaign spent slightly more than Biden’s on the same platforms combined last week, Biden did spend more heavily on Facebook, and Trump led in Google spending.
FWIW, here are the top political ad spenders on Facebook + Google last week:
Despite an endless stream of reporters hungry to write a “Joe-Biden-is-losing-the-internet” story, the Biden campaign had a banner week – with major endorsements from Democratic Party leaders pouring in. On Monday, Bernie Sanders joined Biden’s basement live-stream as a surprise guest to endorse the former Veep, and the two had a brilliant conversation discussing Sanders’ hopes for Joe’s policy agenda.
Within 24 hours, the Biden campaign began running fundraising ads on Facebook featuring the Sanders campaign slogan: “Not me. Us.”
Future Vice PresidentElizabeth Warren () also joined in on the fun, releasing an endorsement video that garnered millions of views of her own.
Finally, even Cardi B got in the mix, endorsing Biden to her fans on a must-watch IG Live conversationshe had with “Uncle Bernie” last weekend. ☄️
Who’s advertising on Reddit? 🤖
Reddit joined the ranks of Facebook, Google, and Snapchat this week in building a transparency archive of all political ads on its platform. We immediately looked at the platform’s advertising from 2019 and thus far in 2020, and found it’s been used by only a few prominent campaigns and organizations. In the past year, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and the DLCC notably used the platform for fundraising and email list-building – in fact, Kamala’s ads are the first featured in the library, having run all the way back in January 2019. Notably absent from the platform? The Trump campaign.
The new GOP playbook: An anti-China onslaught
Pro-Trump SuperPAC America First is finally getting their sh*t together, and of course, are launching absurd attack ads highlighting Biden’s proximity to China. This comes as the President tries to use China as a tool to distract the country from his failure to contain the coronavirus. These attacks aren’t random – there’s a coordinated effort on the Right to frame Democrats in this election as defenders of communist China. Here’s what that looks like in the Facebook feeds of voters around the country:
And lastly, this week POLITICO’s Alex Thompson wrote about the Democrats’ major deficit when it comes to engaging audiences on YouTube. Far-right figures like Ben Shapiro and entities like Prager U rack up millions of views on their content organically, often without spending a dime. Meanwhile, few groups on the Left have invested in building an organic following on the platform…and some have even been outright dismissive. 🤦🏻♂️
One more thing… 🤳
That’s all for FWIW this week! We hope you stay healthy and sane, and continue practice social distancing! But before you go, we have one more ask of you! Follow us on Instagram! This week, we hosted a IG Live with former Pete for America National Organizing Director Greta Carnes, and next week we’ll be live again with a surprise guest you won’t want to miss. Give us a follow + keep an eye out for details
P.S. Were you, or someone you know a digital campaign staffer on a 2020 Democratic primary campaign? We’re recording conversations with leading digital strategists, organizers, videographers, communicators, and more as part of a project we’ll be rolling out soon. If you’d like to participate, hit us up.