Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Adapted from Advertising Analytics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: For a while, Trump was dominating online advertising spend on Google and Facebook, giving his campaign an unprecedented early lead in drumming up grassroots support ahead of 2020. Now, Democrats — led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris — are catching up.

By the numbers: Just 2 months ago in March, Trump's campaign was outspending all Democrats combined on those platforms 2:1. Now, according to data from Advertising Analytics and Bully Pulpit Interactive:

  • Democrats have spent nearly twice as much as the Trump campaign since January.
  • In total, Democrats have spent roughly $12.7 million on digital ads on Google and Facebook since the beginning of the year.
  • The Trump campaign has spent $7.9 million.

Biden's campaign said that 70% of the $6.3 million that he raised in his campaign's first 24 hours, a record among the 2020 Dems, was from online.The strongest response came from videos featuring Biden, the campaign said.

How it works: At this stage in the campaign, candidates are using advertising mostly to build lists, collect data and solicit small-dollar fundraising.

  • Data collected from ad performance and dollars raised from digital ad campaigns will go toward buying and optimizing more expensive television ads.
  • At this point, most presidential contenders aren't thinking too much about television advertising.
  • According to FCC filings, only former Maryland Rep. John Delaney has even begun reserving local broadcast television spots in key swing states, like New Hampshire and Iowa.

The big picture: The ability for campaigns to buy cheap digital ads has upended the way political campaigns are run. And while this phenomenon isn't new, our ability to track it is.

  • Traditionally, direct mail has been used to solicit fundraising this early on in the campaign, which can be more expensive and is harder to get feedback from in real time.
  • Now, digital ads allow campaigns to build up their lists early for fundraising down the road, and it allows them to test which messages resonate with different potential voters before targeting them with more expensive outreach, like television ads.

Be smart: This level of insight into what campaigns spend on Google and Facebook, which makes up the majority of online digital ad spending, has been made possible by the implementation of ad archives from both companies last year. Previously, data about political ad spend on these platforms was relatively unknown.

Go deeper

Don McGahn agrees to House panel interview on Russia report

Former White House counsel Don McGahn during a discussion at the NYU Global Academic Center in Washington, D.C., in 2019. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about the Russia investigation that led to the impeachment trial of former President Trump — with certain conditions, per a court filing.

Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.

Scoop: FEC drops first of several election complaints against Trump

Donald Trump Jr. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Federal Election Commission has voted not to investigate allegations that Trump campaign representatives — including Donald Trump Jr. — solicited illegal foreign assistance in 2016, Axios has learned.

The big picture: The commission deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on whether to probe potential campaign finance violations surrounding an infamous meeting with two Russian nationals at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.