After recent surge, Trump is outpacing Biden on Facebook ad buys in battleground states » EntornoInteligente
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Trump leveraged these capabilities in 2016 and “ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser,” one prominent Facebook executive said

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign had a hidden advantage from August to mid-September: It was outspending President Trump’s campaign on Facebook ads tailored to persuade battleground-state voters.

But the president’s campaign began ramping up and is now spending more on battleground-state ad buys on the platform, which was a key part of his strategy in 2016 . It funded an estimated $794,000 per day as October began on ads to convince wavering voters and to turn out his base in several states key to his 2016 victory.

Democratic nominee Biden spent about $621,000 per day on those types of ads in the same time period.

That’s according to an analysis for The Washington Post of Facebook ad data published by the platform and provided by the New York University Online Political Transparency Project. The analysis looked specifically at paid ads targeted disproportionately to swing states, presumably to win votes, and did not include ads with broader reach, such as nationwide appeals for donations or email addresses. It also shows the voting blocs they’re both targeting, including seniors and Hispanic voters.

Estimated spending on Facebook ads

shown mostly in swing states, by state

Average daily spending in the previous week

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Michigan

Arizona

Wisconsin

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Texas

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Source: Analysis of Online Political Ads Transparency Project at New York University.

See full methodology at the bottom of this article.

Estimated spending on Facebook ads

shown mostly in swing states, by state

Average daily spending in the previous week

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Michigan

Arizona

Wisconsin

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Texas

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Source: Analysis of Online Political Ads Transparency Project at New York University. See full methodology

at the bottom of this article.

Estimated spending on Facebook ads shown mostly in swing states, by state

Average daily spending in the previous week

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

Michigan

North Carolina

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Wisconsin

Arizona

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

Texas

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Source: Analysis of Online Political Ads Transparency Project at New York University. See full methodology

at the bottom of this article.

Estimated spending on Facebook ads shown mostly in swing states, by state

Average daily spending in the previous week

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

Michigan

Arizona

Wisconsin

$200k

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

Texas

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$100k

$0

Aug. 1

Oct. 5

Source: Analysis of Online Political Ads Transparency Project at New York University. See full methodology

at the bottom of this article.

Both campaigns are duking it out in key states, with Trump recently upping his Facebook persuasion effort in Florida and Biden doubling down on Pennsylvania.

Biden has clearly widened the electoral map . Flush with cash from motivated Democratic donors , his campaign is running Facebook ads in several states Trump won in 2016. He began spending an estimated $30,000 per day on vote-oriented ads around mid-September to contest the formerly deep-red state of Georgia. The Trump campaign then began spending about $60,000 per day.

[ Facebook to temporarily halt political ads in U.S. after polls close Nov. 3, broadening earlier restrictions ]

Trump appears to be on the defensive in states he won by more than five points in 2016, funding ads in Iowa and Ohio — even though Facebook ad data suggests Biden isn’t prioritizing those states.

The president has bankrolled some ads in Minnesota and Nevada, which voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, but neither candidate appears to be contesting onetime swing state New Hampshire’s four electoral votes on Facebook.

The targeted Facebook buys come as Biden continues to outspend cash-strapped Trump on television — a more expensive, but less precisely targeted medium — in key states.

Spending on cable and broadcast television ads in battleground states

For the week ending in each date

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

$10M

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Michigan

Arizona

Wisconsin

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Texas

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Source: Advertising Analytics

Spending on cable and broadcast television ads

in battleground states

For the week ending in each date

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

$10M

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Michigan

Wisconsin

Arizona

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Texas

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Source: Advertising Analytics

Spending on cable and broadcast television ads in battleground states

For the week ending in each date

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

Michigan

North Carolina

$10M

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Wisconsin

Arizona

$10M

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

Texas

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Source: Advertising Analytics

Spending on cable and broadcast television ads in battleground states

For the week ending in each date

Biden

Trump

States Trump won by less than 5 points

Florida

Pennsylvania

North Carolina

Michigan

Arizona

Wisconsin

$10M

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Trump won in 2016 by at least 5 points

Georgia

Ohio

Iowa

Texas

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

States Clinton won in 2016

Minnesota

Nevada

New Hampshire

$5M

$0

Aug. 3

Oct. 12

Source: Advertising Analytics

A key advantage of Facebook is that campaigns can target specific voters with issues they care about, using vast troves of data, for instance, allowing campaigns to bombard undecided seniors with a health-care-centric message.

Trump leveraged these capabilities in 2016 and “ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser,” one prominent Facebook executive said .

Now, both campaigns are spending big on ads like these for seniors in particular, because that’s a group that supported Trump in 2016, but whom polls show has wavered substantially .

Example ads from the Biden and Trump campaigns

Example ads from the Biden and Trump campaigns

The dominant campaign issue this year has been the coronavirus pandemic. A Spanish-language ad that ran in Florida and Texas, among other states, touts Biden’s plan for combating the virus, which has disproportionately affected Hispanics . Trump’s ads have promised an imminent vaccine, though experts say it will take longer than promised , and lauded his response to the pandemic.

Example ads from the Biden and Trump campaigns

Example ads from the Biden and Trump campaigns

A Facebook-centric strategy was a key to Trump’s surprise victory. This year, he’ll need to play catch-up to Biden’s months-long head start persuading swing-state voters.

Merrill is a freelance data journalist.

About this story Merrill and The Post analyzed more than 680,000 Facebook ads purchased by the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign from July 22 to Oct. 9. The data for these ads — the text, estimated amount spent on each, and the proportion spent in each state — comes from a database provided by the NYU Online Political Transparency Project . That project gathers data from the Facebook’s Ad Library and augments it with estimated spending (based on precise total daily spending and per-ad ranges published by Facebook) and ad images. (Merrill does some software engineering for the project.)

Similar ads were grouped into “ad campaigns.” For each ad campaign, we considered it a “swing state-only” campaign if the proportion of its cost that was spent in swing states (as defined by the Cook Political Report’s “toss up” and “lean” categories as of Sept. 29) was at least 1.5 times the proportion of the U.S. population in those swing states. More than 180,000 ads were considered part of 1,800 “swing state-only” ad campaigns.

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