Digital spending on gun safety ads soars
Also inside: Google’s transparency overhaul and a Q&A on political virtual events
Welcome back to FWIW, we hope you had a restful Memorial Day break last week - we sure did.
In the wake of yet another mass shooting in America, gun safety organizations and advocates are leading political digital spending nationwide to mobilize supporters and advocate for reasonable gun restrictions. We’ll break down their ad spending and more below.
By the numbers
FWIW, here were the top-spending political advertisers on Meta platforms (Facebook + Instagram) last week:
Political ad spending on Facebook and Instagram was unusually high last week, driven by record spending on gun safety-related ads. Other top spenders included Democrats Raphael Warnock, Val Demings, Mark Kelly, and Beto O’Rourke, who all continue to far outpace their Republican opponents in spending.
Meanwhile, here were the top political advertisers on Google platforms last week, including YouTube:
The Democratic National Committee is running a new wave of supporter acquisition ads on Google and YouTube prominently featuring Vice President Harris speaking out in defense of abortion rights. View the latest version below:
On the Republican side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is geo-targeting border communities in Arizona with a xenophobic set of YouTube ads tying Sen. Mark Kelly to home invasions, presumably committed by immigrants. Despite the constant drumbeat of attacks since his election, Kelly currently maintains an above-average approval rating, and he still does not yet have a clear Republican opponent.
Lastly, here are the top political ad spenders on Snapchat so far this year:
From around the internet
AXIOS partnered with Google Trends to create a searchable tool to track Americans’ political search interests. Check it out>>
Good Information Founder + CEO Tara McGowan penned an op-ed in The Information on basic moves that big tech should make ahead of the midterms. Read the piece here (paywalled)>>
The Righting published an analysis of the most popular right-wing media sites in the month of April ranked by site traffic. It’s worth a read.
Speaking of right-wing media, the Daily Wire held its most-anticipated feature film launch ever this week with the premiere of anti-trans documentary What is a Woman. The live stream was riddled with technical issues, allegations of censorship, and claims of a targeted cyber attack - but the company still claims it added more paying subscribers than any other day in its history.
Popular Information published an investigation into the anti-gay political donations of some of the country’s biggest Pride month sponsors. Judd Legum has the receipts>>
Political virtual events aren’t going anywhere
During the heat of the pandemic, political campaigns and organizations held more livestreams and virtual events than ever before. Are virtual events still a good campaign fundraising tactic? Are people tired of endless Zoom sessions? For this week’s Campaigner Q&A, we spoke with Hovercast’s Jordan Newman about why the tactic isn’t going away anytime soon. Read more + subscribe>>
Google provides more transparency 📈
This morning, Google released an overhaul of its political ad transparency database, and it’s a huge improvement. Users now have more options for searching and filtering ads by criteria like where they’re being targeted, which will help us provide you with more valuable insights moving forward. Shout out to team Google for continuing to invest in transparency. 🙏 Here’s a thread with more details from one of Google’s political ad leads, Niko Duffy.
Gun safety ad spending soars
In the wake of yet another preventable mass shooting in America, gun safety nonprofit groups have led digital ad spending nationwide over the past 10 days.
Sandy Hook Promise has spent over $2.2 million on fundraising ads on Facebook to harness Americans’ reactions and disbelief in the wake of the Uvalde massacre.
The Brady Campaign has spent over $430,000 on Facebook ads featuring Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr advocating for legislative action.
Everytown for Gun Safety has spent over $300,000 on Facebook, mostly fundraising and urging confirmation of Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
Giffords has spent nearly $30,000 on similar supporter acquisition ads
This sad but necessary trend of increased ad spending on the issue seems to happen every time gun violence dominates the news cycle, as these groups rely on grassroots donations to continue their important advocacy work.
It’s not just nonprofit organizations that are putting dollars behind gun-related messaging online - politicians on both sides of the aisle are doing so as well. We’ve seen over a dozen candidates for Governor and Congress run ads on Facebook and Instagram mentioning “guns” over the past two weeks.
The Washington Post unsurprisingly found this week that guns regularly play a prominent, “intentionally provocative” role in dozens of Republican campaign ads - both online and on TV. Meanwhile, USA Today published an interesting analysis of how politicians in both parties frame political messaging around gun violence.
That’s it for FWIW this week - If you enjoyed reading today’s newsletter, do us a favor and tweet about it @FWIWnews!