The short and vertical election cycle
Vertical videos have taken over social media. Campaigns should take note.
Social media platforms’ prioritization of short-form, vertical-oriented video content has been one of the biggest, fastest developments in the industry in years. Although many Americans may have become accustomed (or addicted) to the medium thanks to TikTok’s wild algorithm, Reels and Stories on Facebook and Instagram have taken the format beyond Gen Z and into the feeds of older audiences.
In this week’s FWIW, we’ll break down why campaigns should take a beat and reassess their video strategy for the new world we live in - and share how some campaigns are already all over it.
By the numbers
FWIW, here were the top-spending political advertisers on Meta platforms (Facebook + Instagram) last week:
The Daily Wire was the top political ad spender on Facebook + Instagram nationwide last week, dropping over $325,000 on ads promoting its upcoming shows and pushing culture war messaging like this.
In terms of candidate spending, the top spenders were Val Demings and Raphael Warnock. Both have been aggressively running fundraising ads to build their war chests for what will likely be expensive, record-breaking Senate races this fall. As a result, Demings’ campaign raised a whopping $10 million - much of that online - in the past three months.
In other news, we’re sorry to report that disgraced former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is back advertising on Facebook - and he was actually the top political ad spender in the state last week. God knows why he’s running ads, but the dozen or so videos attempt to remind New Yorkers of his pre-scandal popularity and exonerate his name. He’s spent around $75,000 on the platform since March 15th.
Meanwhile, here were the top political advertisers on Google platforms last week, including YouTube:
Most Google spending remained unchanged last week, with Democrats leading political ad spending on the company’s platforms.
However, we did see the Democratic Party of Wisconsin running hyper-local YouTube ads boosting candidates in down-ballot races across the Badger State. 👏 Under Chair Ben Wikler’s leadership, the state party has been transformed into a fundraising and organizing powerhouse, and Wikler personally appealed to voters in this past Tuesday’s municipal and school board elections in over a dozen ads:
Lastly, here are the top political ad spenders on Snapchat so far this year:
Snapchat ad spending was slow in Q1, but a few Democratic Senate campaigns have tested the waters. We found that Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto launched several new ads over the past few weeks, in English and Spanish.
Midterm spending takeaways
The midterms are here, and we’ve been keeping a close eye on digital ad spending in key Senate, House, and Gubernatorial contests. For full access to the most comprehensive dataset of midterm digital spending, become a paying subscriber here. >>
Raphael Warnock was the top-spending battleground Senate candidate on digital ads last week (view Senate data).
Stacey Abrams was the top spending battleground Gubernatorial candidate on digital ads last week (view Gov data).
OR-6 was the most expensive swing U.S. House district race online last week.
The short and vertical election cycle
Social media platforms’ prioritization of short-form, vertical-oriented video content has been one of the biggest, fastest developments in the industry in years. Although many Americans may have become accustomed (or addicted) to the medium thanks to TikTok’s wild algorithm, Reels on Instagram, and Facebook Stories have taken the format beyond Gen Z and into the feeds of older audiences.
“Every campaign is in competition with every other content creator for the eyes and ears of American voters, and that competition is now largely playing out on vertical video,” strategist Stefan Smith told us this week. “To ignore vertical video in 2022 is akin to ignoring Facebook in 2012—it’s electoral negligence.”
Let’s break it down:
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