Republicans cheerlead inflation in new digital ads

Conservative groups excitedly launch dozens of ads blaming the Build Back Better agenda

This morning, the House of Representatives passed a historic, once-in-a-generation bill to expand the social safety net and improve the lives of millions of Americans. As the BBB agenda now moves to an eventual vote in the Senate, Republicans are more desperate than ever to slow down or stall its final passage.

In the past two weeks, Republican candidates, conservative media, and outside groups have launched new large-scale digital efforts focused on one thing they hope can kill the bill: inflation. We’ll break down what we’re seeing online + what messages these groups are pushing in this week’s FWIW.

But first…

By the Numbers

FWIW, here were the top 10 political ad spenders on Meta platforms last week, including Facebook & Instagram: 

As you can see above, conservative media and Republican-affiliated outside groups continued to outspend Democrats on Facebook advertising last week. 

A new group of spenders we noticed last week came from the tech industry, which is threatened by new antitrust regulations being debated in the U.S. Senate. The American Edge Project, NetChoice, and the Computer Industry Association spent over $100k on Facebook ads that target a handful of Senators and threaten the end of Amazon Prime as we know it. 😂 Can we get a fact-check?

Also related to Facebook advertising, our friends at the Voter Formation Project just released a new report on their learnings from advertising in the 2021 elections. One of their toplines is that Apple’s new privacy measures had a big impact on their ability to drive conversions. You can read the full report here.

Meanwhile, here’s what political ad spending looked like on Google platforms last week:

Arizonans were served a disproportionate amount of Google & YouTube political ads last week, with several groups, including the New York State Working Families Party, Advancing Arizona, and Just Democracy targeting them on the platforms. Ads from two of the groups aim to influence Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on everything from the filibuster to Build Back Better. 

The YouTube ad running from Just Democracy takes the cake, however. It’s an uber-dramatic “movie trailer” that comes across as just a little over the top: 

Lastly, here’s what the year-to-date political ad spending picture looks like on Snapchat. Political advertisers have spent around $4.5 million on the platform this year, a slight increase over 2019 :

Republicans cheerlead higher prices

Desperate to slow down or stall final passage of President Biden’s historic Build Back Better agenda, Republican candidates, conservative media, and outside groups have launched new large-scale digital efforts focused on one thing: inflation. Over the past two weeks, we’ve found at least a dozen organizations have launched new ad campaigns on Facebook or Google attacking Biden for higher prices on groceries and gas. 

Leading spending among those groups is Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, which along with their Latino-focused arm Libre Initiative, is spending tens of thousands of dollars in targeted states like Arizona, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire in an effort to inflate fears and kill the BBB bill in the Senate. 

Another group targeting voters in swing-states with similar ads on Facebook is America First Works, which put around $50,000 behind this bizarre video blaming...Obama?

...and unable to stay out of the fray, Donald Trump (who contrary to Facebook’s PR team assurances, is not fully banned from the platform) is running a new video ad to his supporters comparing President Biden to Jimmy Carter, blaming him for “pain at the pump,” “higher prices on groceries” and “devaluing your retirement savings.”

Other groups advertising on rising prices include the Club for Growth (watch their ad), American Petroleum Institute, state Republican parties, Texas Public Policy Institute, and PragerU. Some of these actors are downright celebrating the higher prices - the Republican National Committee is spinning up content and tweeting about inflation multiple times a day. 

On the Left, at least a few progressive groups are countering these efforts by investing online to highlight the positive notes of Biden economic policy. We noticed Priorities USA is using Google Search ads in swing states like Georgia, Nevada, and Arizona to hype job creation and tax cuts. 

Little to no liberal advertisers are running ads directly mentioning higher prices or inflation, for good reason: Democrats may have their work cut out for them on the issue. Recent research from a progressive group found that eight narratives they tested to shift blame from Biden for inflation fell flat. The group urged “a high degree of caution” for Democrats messaging on inflation. 

From Campaigner: Q&A with Stefan Smith

In this week’s issue of Campaigner, we spoke with Stefan Smith on how campaigns should build and engage groups of supporters online. Smith led online engagement for Pete for America and has lots of🔥  thoughts on influencers, organizing, and the future of online campaigns. Read the interview here>>

That’s it for FWIW this week! A quick reminder that we’ll have our newsletters on pause next week for the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’ll be back in your inbox the following week!