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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Political advertising around the 2020 election is expected to reach $6.7 billion this cycle, up 12% from initial projections of around $6 million, according to a new report. Nearly $2 billion will be spent on digital video, primarily on Facebook and Google.

Why it matters: The pandemic has forced campaigns to shift budgets from in-person campaign events, like canvassing and town halls, to digital advertising and virtual events. This has expedited a growing shift from traditional campaign marketing to digital.

Details: Like every presidential election in modern history, broadcast television advertising will be the most prominent form of marketing at $3.5 billion, followed by digital ($1.8 billion), cable ($1.2 billion) and radio ($0.2 billion), per the report from Advertising Analytics and Cross Screen Media.

  • But digital has closed that gap this year substantially compared to previous cycles. Digital video advertising at $1.8 billion represents more than double what was spent during the 2018 cycle — $74 billion.

By the numbers: Excluding Michael Bloomberg's enormous ad spend, $1.5 billion has been spent so far on the primary, nearly 2x that of any other cycle.

  • That's more than $1 billion over what was spent at this point in 2016 and 2018.
  • So far, two-thirds of all ad dollars have been spent on "direct response" ads online (ads that try to get you to donate or sign up to volunteer for something via a click).
  • Investment in "persuasion" ads, which are typically longer, emotionally appealing video ads seen on television, will increase later in the cycle.

Be smart: A huge spike in online fundraising, from both Democrats and Republicans, can also be credited with an increase in advertising this cycle.

What's next: While a cumulative $2.19 billion has been spent during the 2020 cycle, $4 billion more still needs to be spent.

  • More of the cycle's total cash is expected to be spent in the final 10 weeks leading up to the race on persuasion TV ads. So far, $443 million in advertising has already been reserved for fall 2020.

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Republican convention viewership down 26% from first night of 2016

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Roughly 17 million people watched the first night of the Republican National Convention on television during the primary speech hours between 10 p.m.-11 p.m. EST Monday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: That's down more than 26% from the number of TV viewers for the first night of the 2016 RNC. It's also 13% lower than the number of TV viewers who watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention last week.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Ant Financial's IPO could be the largest of all time

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Ant Financial on Monday filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai, after years of speculation and anticipation.

Why it matters: This could be the largest IPO of all time, topping the $29 billion raised last year by Saudi Aramco. It's also a passive aggressive escalation of China-U.S. tensions, with Ant snubbing New York.

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.

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