Can Facebook ads influence the Presidential election?

Bloomberg has spent more than $450 million on ads.

According to Facebook, Mike Bloomberg has spent just over $48 million in Facebook and Instagram political ads for Mike Bloomberg 2020, Inc. That is over 10% of his $452 million ad spend to date. With approximately $7.8 million spent in the last 7 days, he is averaging over $1.1 million per day on these two social platforms alone. As of December, he had already spent $120 million in all digital and broadcast advertising.

Is it enough to influence the election?

Many of Bloomberg’s ads are geared towards criticizing Trump as opposed to discussing his Democratic opponents that he debated with on stage this past Wednesday in Nevada. Placing oneself against Trump now, instead of against the other Democratic opponents still in the race, is a strategy that entrepreneurs and positive-thinking enthusiasts often use to create the perception that they are already doing more significant things. It gives the appearance that he will be the contender come November against Trump.

Mike Bloomberg Facebook ad
Facebook ad screenshot from Bloomberg’s Page Transparency section.

Mike had his chance up against his Democratic opponents for the first time in Nevada’s debate with the NY Times, saying he “bungled a debate that he had been prepped for.” Elizabeth Warren pressed the hardest, challenging Bloomberg to release former female employees under non-disclosure agreements regarding the sexual harassment cases that were filed against his companies in prior years. As of Friday, he kowtowed to the pressure by agreeing to release three women from their NDA’s.

Other messages in Bloomberg’s ads tout his accomplishments as Mayor of New York City and building a global company. The ads also mention his stance on healthcare, education, and jobs, and how he has “given away over $8 billion to take on the NRA, fight Big Tobacco, replace coal with clean energy, and more.”

Mike Bloomberg Facebook ad
Facebook ad screenshot from Bloomberg’s Page Transparency section.

On Facebook and Instagram, Bloomberg has outspent his competitors in campaign ads by more than 10x his next high-spending Democratic competitors. According to the vanity metrics, he’s not the top runner on the number of “likes,” with Bernie Sanders in the lead at 5.3 million fans. Perhaps Bernie’s followers from the 2016 election gave him a head start.

The following chart compares some of the Democratic candidates’ popularity and recent advertising expenses, according to Facebook.

Bloomberg Facebook ad spend
Facebook likes and 7-day ad spends by candidate. | Image source: Sally Hendrick, News Landed

With as much as Tom Steyer’s campaign is spending in Facebook ads ($703,000), he did not make the cutoff for the Nevada debate. According to Politico, he was shy of the polling threshold needed to secure a spot on the stage next to his competitors.

To view the ads that Bloomberg is running, log into your Facebook account to reach the “Page Transparency” section on his official Facebook Page. You can type any candidate’s name in the search bar to see the messages they are spreading and how much they are spending.

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