Nov 5, 2019

2020 candidates are mostly focusing their advertising spending online

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.
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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.
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Adapted from a Bully Pulpit interactive chart; Chart: Axios Visuals

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

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Michael Bloomberg reportedly reserves biggest campaign TV ad buy in history

Michael Bloomberg prepares to speak at the Christian Cultural Center in New York. Photo: Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Former New York City mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg announced a $31 million TV ad campaign on Friday in several key primary states ahead of an anticipated announcement to enter the 2020 Democratic primary race for president, NBC News reports, citing Advertising Analytics.

Why it matters: The reported figure would be the single biggest ad buy in American campaign history, with Barack Obama holding the previous record at $30 million in 2012. Bloomberg's first ad spend comes as he has filed paperwork to jump into the race, but his campaign team says he has not made a final decision.

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Facebook's plan to keep growing bigger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While content companies are pushing to diversify their businesses with subscriptions and licensing, and big tech companies draw on income from hardware sales and software sales and subscriptions, Facebook is sticking with advertising at scale for the foreseeable future.

Why it matters: Facebook created its massive business by handing out a free social network and monetizing it through ads. As it expands into other businesses like commerce, payments, and hardware, it's mostly sticking with that formula — convinced that "free and ad-supported" remains the best route to achieve massive scale and to deliver on its mission of connecting the world. 

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