Nov 26, 2019

Billionaires dominate 2020 ad spend

Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The 2020 campaigns of the three billionaires running for president next year have collectively spent about two-thirds of all ad dollars so far.

Why it matters: Self-funded billionaires like former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are trouncing candidates like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who are getting most of their money from small-dollar fundraising.

Yes, but: Although President Trump is a billionaire, his campaign this time around isn't self-funded. The Trump campaign has raised most of its money alongside big Republican political groups like the Republican National Committee.

Details: Bloomberg has only officially been in the presidential race for a few days, but already he's invested more in television ads this year than many of his competitors.

  • "In one week alone, Bloomberg’s spending on TV nearly eclipsed the entire field (excluding Tom Steyer) combined — $35M to $40M," says Paul Winn, COO of Advertising Analytics.

Bloomberg's campaign is running a familiar strategy; spending most of his dollars at the national level, and then in the states with the biggest populations.

  • So far, he's committed the most money to ads running nationally (nearly $7 million), followed by ads running in California (~$4.2 million), Florida (~$3.6 million), Texas (~$3.2 million), New York (~2.3 million), Pennsylvania (~$1.4 million), Illinois (~$1.1 million), and North Carolina (~$1 million).
  • He's bought TV ads in roughly 100 different local media markets, per media firm Advertising Analytics, including some smaller markets in states like Idaho and Mississippi.
  • So far, the spend is split among two video ads, Promise and Rebuild the country, which talk about Bloomberg's commitment to certain issues and his record in public service.

Be smart: Bloomberg's war chest has already become a talking point for Democrats on the campaign trail. Many Democrats had similar reactions to Steyer's cash pile when he entered the race a few months ago.

  • "We do not believe that billionaires have the right to buy elections, , and that is why we are going to overturn Citizens United, that is why multibillionaires like Mr. Bloomberg are not going to get very far in this election," Sanders said at a campaign event Sunday.
  • "His view is that he doesn’t need people who knock on doors. He doesn’t need to go out and campaign, people," Warren said at a campaign event Monday. "He doesn’t need volunteers. And if you get out and knock on 1,000 doors he’ll just spend another $37 million to flood the airwaves and that’s how he plans to buy a nomination in the Democratic Party. I think that is fundamentally wrong."

The big picture: The 2020 election was already slated to be a record-breaking political advertising event. Now that Bloomberg and Steyer have both jumped into the race, advertising spend on the presidential race alone could exceed the $3 billion predicted by experts.

Go deeper: 2020 candidates are mostly focusing their advertising spending online

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Warren accuses Bloomberg of trying to "buy" Democratic nomination

Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren attacked 2020 newcomer Michael Bloomberg's approach to the Democratic primary, suggesting he believes he can "buy" the nomination with "bags and bags of money," Bloomberg reports.

Driving the news: Bloomberg, who announced his candidacy on Sunday, is reportedly set to spend $100 million in digital ads in swing states attacking President Trump, per the New York Times. A source close to the billionaire and former New York mayor told Axios earlier this month that Bloomberg "will spend whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump."

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Michael Bloomberg reportedly reserves biggest campaign TV ad buy in history

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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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Andrew Yang: Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg's enormous ad buys are a "dud"

Andrew Yang. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Democratic candidate Andrew Yang noted that the heavy ad spend from his fellow 2020 contenders, billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, reflects "a very poor track record," of prior self-funded candidates, but stopped short of outright criticizing them, Yahoo reports.

The big picture: The two billionaires in the race have collectively spent more than $181 million in TV ads so far. The other Democratic candidates have spent about $28 million combined, according to data consulting company Kantar.

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