FWIW: Facebook’s major online ad blitz

Also inside: A first look at the NYC mayoral election

This week, we dive into Facebook’s massive advertising campaign, analyze some big early spending in a 2022 congressional race, and preview the current state of the NYC mayoral election, online. 

Oh, and Happy Infrastructure Week to those who celebrate. Let’s get into it.

By the numbers

FWIW, here are the top spenders on political Google ads from March 21st to March 27th:

For the second week in a row, the Democratic National Committee spent the most on Google ads, running these 🔥 :06 second video spots touting the American Rescue Plan on behalf of Democratic Senators in key states. 

A new top spender on Google last week was the Young America’s Foundation, a decades-old organization currently led by Scott Walker that seeks to recruit young Americans into the Republican Party (or his future presidential campaign…?🤔). Their latest campaign, featuring banner ads with the former governor looking Cool and Approachable™, is their biggest-ever so far on the platform.

FWIW, here are the top spenders on political Facebook ads from March 21st to March 27th:

Last week, we reported on how there wasn’t much of a paid digital campaign on gun reform from the left that was comparable to the right’s massive online push to prevent gun control legislation. This week, we’re pleased to report that organizations advocating for common sense gun safety measures are proving us wrong. 

In the week following the attacks in Atlanta and Boulder, Sandy Hook Promise spent $63,000 on Facebook ads - last week, they were the second-largest spender on the platform at over $302,000. Similarly, the Brady Campaign’s spending jumped from $4,999 to nearly $83,000 in the same period. Sandy Hook Promise is running much of the same ads from earlier this month - acquisition ads mostly targeted at older women that draw a link between the Sandy Hook shooting and recent events- and the Brady campaign is now running similar ads advocating for a federal assault weapons ban.

Far-right political operative Ben Shapiro continued to spend heavily on ads this week, as did his partisan content site, the Daily Wire. In fact, the Daily Wire is running a deluge of new anti-Biden political ads, but we’re unable to report on how much they’re spending or who they are targeting, because Facebook’s policy team treats them as a legitimate media company. 

Finally, here are the top spenders on Snapchat so far this year:

There’s been very little movement on this platform recently. The biggest investment in the past couple weeks comes from End Citizens United, which spent almost $6,500 on this new ad (below)  advocating for the For the People Act. This ad campaign is being run in AZ, GA, ME, PA, AK, and DC, and targets interest groups like “Advocates and Activists”, “Green Living Enthusiasts”, and CNN, Comedy Central, and MSNBC viewers, according to the Snap Political Ads Library.

There’s a 100% chance you have seen these ads

Last week, the top political advertiser on Facebook was...Facebook. According to their own transparency library, they were the biggest political ad spender in the month of March, shelling out $725,911 in 30 days. 😱

With Democrats in power in Washington, the company has aggressively launched a campaign to call for “an update” to comprehensive internet regulations, likely hoping to frame any potential legislation on their own terms.

The company is not just spending on Facebook though, and they aren’t only advertising through their own brand. Last year, they quietly backed a new political group called American Edge Project to push their agenda as well, and it’s somehow able to run political ads on Twitter, despite Twitter’s ban on political ads. Their latest ad on the platform has been running all week, and has over 3.5M views:

At least for those of us in DC, these types of ads from Facebook and American Edge are appearing *literally everywhere.* From Google, to banner ads across the web, to political newsletter sponsorships, to streaming TV services, it’s hard to avoid. It’s unclear what effect this onslaught may have on policy makers on the Hill, but to dig deeper into the state of Facebook’s relationship with the public policy world, we recommend this interview with Casey Newton on Platformer.

First Look: The digital race to be Mayor of NYC

Several top candidates for mayor of New York are spending much of their paid media budgets on TV and radio ads, but that hardly means they’re neglecting online outreach.

Former Citigroup exec Ray McGuire has spent over $80,000 on Facebook ads, former nonprofit exec Dianne Morales is one of the only candidates on TikTok, longtime activist Maya Wiley is taking an AOC-like approach to Instagram - and then there’s Andrew Yang with his massive, dedicated, and very creative fan base. 

This race is wide open, and that’s just as true online as it is in the polls.

Read more 🗽

Introducing one of the most expensive House races of 2022

Another of the top spenders on Facebook advertising in recent weeks is Kerry Donovan, who is riding a wave of Democratic energy to get Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Qanon) out of Congress. Click below to read more about what could be one of the most expensive races of 2022. ⤵️

Read more 🤠

That’s it for FWIW this week! If you enjoy reading this newsletter each week, please help us grow our audience by sharing this on Twitter, or forwarding this email to 3 friends! 🙏