Biden surges in digital spending on Facebook, Google

Biden surges in digital spending on Facebook, Google
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Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP report on COVID-19 origins homes in on lab leak theory READ: The .2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Senators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session MORE is surging ahead of his 2020 Democratic rivals in digital ad spending, according to The Hill’s analysis of the latest data from Facebook and Google.

Biden’s campaign spent $238,560 on Facebook advertising between May 5 and May 11, according to figures released on Sunday.

This far outstripped the second-place advertiser, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election MORE (D-Mass.), with $88,048. Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Harris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Why in the world are White House reporters being told to mask up again? MORE (D-Calif.) ranked third in spending with a $77,880 outlay.


In the most recent figures from Google, Biden’s ad spending at the search giant— $123,400 for the week of April 28 — is almost twice as large as that of his nearest rival among the major candidates.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Sunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Chasten Buttigieg: DC 'almost unaffordable' MORE (D) spent $63,400 with Google the same week. Harris was again third, with a Google ad spend of $53,600.

The vast spending by Biden on digital advertising is at odds with his image as an old-school politician more comfortable with stump speeches, union halls and retail politics than the brave new digital world.

But it also shows the strength of his early fundraising and demonstrates how Biden’s campaign is seeking to copper-fasten his status as the sole front-runner in the race.

There are caveats, to be sure. 

A top-tier candidate who already has a strong social media presence may feel less reliant on paid advertising, trusting that their existing network can disseminate their chosen message in a more organic way.

For example, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Bipartisan infrastructure win shows Democrats must continue working across the aisle 'The land is us' — Tribal activist turns from Keystone XL to Line 3 MORE (I-Vt.) has far more followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram than any other Democratic candidate, including Biden. Sanders’s campaign spent a negligible amount on Google advertising — just $1,700 — in the latest weekly figures.

The Sanders campaign’s spending on Facebook ads for the week of May 5-May 11 is not yet available, but it spent $55,687 the previous week. This was the fourth-largest spend among the major contenders, behind Biden, Harris and Warren.

A Sanders spokesperson declined to comment on his digital strategy.

For the moment, most campaign advertising across the Democratic field seems aimed at spurring fundraising. The most recent Biden ad shown in Facebook’s “ad library” is a 15-second low-fi video of the former vice president seeking donations.

Warren is running an ad where she is calling one supporter, William, on her cell phone — a not-so-subtle reminder that she has been more assertive than other candidates in refusing even to countenance high-dollar fundraising events.

Harris’s ads couch her fundraising appeals in terms of pushing back on Trump’s agenda.

The data from both companies also points out an early gulf in spending between top-tier Democrats and other hopefuls, including sitting senators.

In the past two weeks, for example, Biden’s campaign has spent about $553,000 on Facebook advertising, more than ten times as much as Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerWomen urge tech giants to innovate on office return Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-N.J.), who has spent $51,350, and about 50 times as much as Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharManchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights Hillicon Valley: Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation | Amazon fined 6M by EU regulators Democrats urge tech CEOs to combat Spanish disinformation MORE’s (D-Minn.) $11,877.

President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE is already advertising heavily on social media. Trump spent $107,824 in Facebook advertising last week. The total was larger than any of the Democratic contenders other than Biden. 

The Make America Great Again Committee — the joint operation that brings together Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee — spent $69,300 on Google ads in the most recent week for which data is available, which, again, was second only to Biden.

Cumulatively, the pro-Trump committee has spent more than $4.3 million on Google advertising, far more than any Democratic candidate — though the figure for the president is skewed because this includes spending in advance of last year’s midterm elections.


Facebook Ad Spending by Major Democratic Candidates, May 5-11*

Former Vice President Joe Biden $238,560

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) $88,048 

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) $77,880 

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandTreat broadband as infrastructure and we have a chance to get it right House panel looks to help military sexual assault survivors To make energy green, remove red tape MORE (N.Y.) $36,876

Mayor Pete Buttigieg $13,525 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.)$6,392 

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) $4,287 

*Figures for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) were not available as of 1:30 p.m. Monday


Google Ad Spending by Major Democratic Candidates, week beginning April 28

Former Vice President Joe Biden: $123,400 

Mayor Pete Buttigieg $63,400 

Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) $53,600 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) $33,500 

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) $6,800 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) $4,500 

Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) $3,500

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) $2,800 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) $1,700