Jun 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Political ads: "Fake news" is out, "foreign policy' is in

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

New data shows that since President Biden has taken office, topics such as “foreign policy," “climate” and “voting rights” have become a much bigger percentage of political and issue ad spending on Facebook, compared to the Trump era.

The big picture: Political ad spending can be a good proxy metric for the types of issues gaining traction amongst policymakers and interest groups.

  • Because Facebook's ad data is easy to track in real-time, it offers researchers a glimpse into trends impacting politics that was much harder to capture even just five years ago.

Details: Big Tech has become one of the biggest topics of discussion in recent weeks, accounting for 6-7% of all political and advocacy ads on Facebook. Ads from Facebook itself has driven some of that increase.

  • "Fake news" has virtually disappeared from Facebook ads compared to last year, when it was at one point ahead of the 2020 race the biggest topic of Trump campaign ad spending on Facebook.
  • "Antifa" and "far-left" have similarly retreated from the high levels of mentions they reached during last summer's Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Health care continues to be a major topic of discussion, but has become a smaller focus area as the pandemic has regressed.

Be smart: Mentions of Biden make up a meaningful share of ads this year, but just not to the extent former President Trump commanded for most of his presidency.

  • In some weeks, almost 40% of all Facebook political spending last year mentioned Trump, according to researchers from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a progressive advertising firm in Washington.
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