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2020 candidates are mostly focusing their advertising spending online

A phone with a dollar bill as a screen.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 presidential election is being fought online at a level we've never seen before, eclipsing television's traditional dominance.

Why it matters: Television is still one of the most important vehicles for candidates to message during a presidential election, especially during the general election, but its dominance is quickly being eaten by digital, and that's including digital alternatives of television, like commercials on Hulu.

By the numbers: Roughly $152 million has been spent so far, per political advertising research firm Advertising Analytics.

  • Digital advertising accounts for 57.5% of tracked spending (broadcast: 33.6%, cable: 8.1%, radio: 0.4%, satellite: 0.1%).
  • What's next: Up to $3 billion is expected on the presidential race alone, with at least $6 billion expected for all political races.
Data: Advertising Analytics; Note: Trump total includes $20m from Trump Make America Great Again Committee; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Between the lines: The split so far between Facebook and Google leans heavily to Facebook — $56 million vs. $31 million.

  • Candidates typically begin to ramp up their spending on Google's YouTube later in the race, according to data from progressive technology firm Tech for Campaigns. 
  • TV's share will increase in the general election, when candidates pour more money into local broadcast get-out-the-vote ads.
Adapted from a Bully Pulpit interactive chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

What to watch: Democrats launch $75 million digital campaign to take on Trump