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  • Writer's pictureRogier Visser, Founder Roundabout social

TRUMP vs BIDEN ad spend

So, a wild year in advertising has almost come to an end.

Election advertising is the topic here....

With just one day to go to get your political ads out there on Facebook, it's almost done

Facebook announced it will stop taking new political advertising in the United States in the seven days leading up to the election

And it could be forever.

Facebook says it will ban US-based political ads indefinitely after the presidential election,

Let's take a little deep dive in the advertising data for this election year

Let's start with the total spendings on the elections

Spending in the 2020 election is expected to reach $10.8 billion

That total estimated spending amount reflects the presidential and congressional races.

The advertising spend

Total ad spend will go to approx. 1,5billion compared to roughly 500million in 2016.

Most of the ad money goes to TV

Mid October Biden already spend almost 222 million compared to 161 million by Trump on TV ads.

Over 1 billion is already spend to date on the TV ads.

Almost $9 out of every $10 spent on TV is being invested in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona.

The top 3 is Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In Pennsylvania alone Biden ran over 38 different ads in one week.

In September Biden spend 153 million on TV ads compared to 57 million from Trump.

Trump actually spend less in ads than he did in 2016.

The tone of voice of the ads are also slightly different between the two competitors.

80% of the Trump ads are negative of so called Contract Ads, a mixture of critics against the opponent and selfpromotion.

Biden has about 60% of those ads.

Ok, then on to the Digital numbers:

This year digital reached a rocking 295 million total since mid april to 11/10 2020 (combined Google and Facebook ads)

Split down:


Biden : 66 million

Trump : 93 million


Biden : 63 million

Trump : 72 million

The focus is on the swing states in social ads. But there are some differences between the two.

Total ad spend in political campaigns is approx. 3% of the total FB earnings in the 3rd quarter.

Noteworthy is that Biden started FB advertising on April 23rd 2019, where Trump already had spend near to 14 million until that moment.

Funny thing is that former Democrate campaign runner up "Tom Steyer" was the big spender on Facebook with nearly 14,5 million on ad spend from mid July to Dec 31st

The numbers are big, however , Google normally would have taken a larger cut of the budget, but limited early on in the year the options for advertising, Twitter also banned political advertising , TikTok also forbids political ads, and Snap has promised to fact-check them.

So Facebook is pretty much the only one left in the room

What do they talk about in their ads?

In general , Trump mentions Covid_19 and Jobs, Biden talks Taxes

Most of the Campaigns are build with look-a-like audiences growing them based on "best results"

At this moment Biden is taking the lead in adspend on Facebook into this last part of the elections

For example the September ad spend

Biden - 32 million

Trump - 23 million

And just yesterday:

A funny exercise to show how big this ad spend really is

Let's say the average CPM in this expensive quarter is $ 15,-

Total impressions bought for Biden are 2,13 billion

Let's say with an average frequency of 10 the total number of unique people served 10 times an ad is approx. 213 million. The whole US FB population. In just one month.

This is just a quick snapshot, not taking retargeting etc in the calculation, just to point out how insane and Incredible these numbers are.

Beside the two competitors, some of the top political spenders on Facebook are outside groups. Stop Republicans, run by the Progressive Turnout Project, spent about $9 million in the quarter on ads, largely focused on defeating Republican senators in close races, including Graham. Republican Voters Against Trump, a group of conservatives supporting Biden, spent over $4 million.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Club for Growth Action spent over $1.4 million on Facebook ads in the quarter, supporting Trump as well as congressional candidates in about 18 competitive races. 

Nearly all of Trump’s and Biden’s campaigns’ online advertising involves some sort of call to action, urging the ad’s viewers to do something – such as give money, sign a petition, answer a poll, sign up to get emails or watch the latest video ad

About 70% of the campaigns’ spending is aimed at persuading voters – changing hearts and minds or solidifying support among the base.

The candidates targeted much of their spending – about one-third of Trump’s and more than half of Biden’s – in a few key states.

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

How big is the advertising in the US for the elections. To give you a breakdown compared to my own country. The small but impressive Netherlands

The USA vs The Netherlands on FB political ad spend

The Netherlands has 17 million people, the USA 328 million

Country Netherlands ( 19 months) USA (30 months)

Ads 96.478 10.843.758

Spend $ 7.758.970 $ 2.270.921.665

Spend per month $ 400.366 $ 75.697.388

Spend per person $ 0,45 cent $ 6,92

Spend p.p. per month $ 0,02 cent $ 0,23 cent

10x more on average . USA is playing this game all the way.

So, the last week is coming up before November 3rd.

The last week will be all about TV ad spend all over the place.

Amazing numbers , compared to 2016 doubled in every way.

Just a thought, If it doubles again in 2024 it will hit 3 billion in ad spend and 20billion overall campaign money. The big Q will be where will the social ad spend will go to in 2024,

TikTok? Is FB still taking political ads by then, A new Social network.......

OMG don't you just love our industry. Our own little rollercoaster in the digital marketing world!

Crazy stuff....but from the Social perspective, love the crazy numbers.

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