Big Tech spends millions on ads to sway D.C. leaders
New data shows that the tech sector spends the most money by far on public affairs advertising in newsletters targeting D.C. decision makers.
Why it matters: Big Tech's big investment shows how much money the industry is willing to spend on influencing lawmakers, despite the fact that major regulation of the industry appears far off.
Details: The new data, from a report from D.C. public affairs firm Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), finds that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Uber accounted for roughly 55% of all spending on sponsorships among D.C.'s biggest newsletters, including those from Axios, Politico and The Washington Post.
- The data pulls spending from the 50 biggest companies targeting D.C. opinion leaders. Those ad buys were supported by major cross-platforms campaigns, which included print ads, traditional digital ads across websites and mobile apps, podcasts, TV and events, BPI found.
The big picture: In total, BPI found that the 50 biggest companies aiming to influence Washington spent roughly $32 million to appear in the District's top newsletters for policymakers and staffers between June 1 and Nov. 30.
- The data measures how brands compete for mindshare amongst D.C. decision-makers and opinion leaders. BPI built a competitive intelligence platform called Decibel to measure this type of advertising specifically, given how much it has grown over the past few years.
Be smart: What makes the tech sector's investment so notable is that tech companies have spent so much money on ads boosting their reputations, as opposed to advocating for particular bills.
- Many ads, particularly those from Facebook, only reference support for regulation targeting the tech industry broadly — including around content moderation and user privacy.
- The data shows that internet privacy and regulation was by far the biggest topic of advertising across all D.C. tip sheets, followed by jobs, climate and healthcare.
Be smart: Because tech companies are focused on reputational campaigns, they tend to have a more consistent advertising presence in D.C. compared to other industries that tend to increase spending only around particular bills or debates, the data found.
What to watch: Aside from tech, the data found that advertising around climate and job creation continues to increase in Washington.
- "[W]e’ve see a focus on worker flexibility and organizations’ talent brands, and fierce competition for mindshare over climate between energy companies, advocacy groups, finance and automakers," Mike Schneider, a Partner at Bully Pulpit Interactive said to Axios.
Note: Axios accepts newsletter advertising from firms noted in this data set.