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These major media moves will impact 2024
Recent media stories have chronicled major shifts in the industry + consumption habits ahead of 2024
Americans’ media consumption habits are changing rapidly ahead of next year’s elections, and that shift will have huge implications for how campaigns and organizations on both sides of the political spectrum can effectively reach voters.
These shifts have been chronicled in several major media stories I’ve seen in the past few weeks - and in this week’s FWIW, we’ll round them up and break it all down. Be sure to read to the end for some ~personal news~.
By the numbers
FWIW, political advertisers spent just over $7.8 million on Facebook and Instagram ads last week. These were the top ten spenders nationwide:
President Biden’s re-election campaign was the top-spending political advertiser on Facebook and Instagram last week, and it was one of their highest spending weeks to date.
The somewhat infamous third-party group, No Labels, has launched new ad campaigns nationwide on Instagram and Facebook. Citing the American Revolution, the ads tell people essentially to revolt against traditional DC politics. They spent over $50,000 last week on Meta’s platforms.
David Hogg, co-founder of March for our Lives, and Kevin Lata, Rep. Maxwell Frost’s former campaign manager, launched the Leaders We Deserve PAC last week. The PAC aims to support young progressives and is running fundraising ads nationwide on Instagram and Facebook – including personal appeals from Hogg and Frost.
Meanwhile, political campaigns spent $1.4 million on Google and YouTube ads last week. Here were the top ten spenders nationwide:
Virginia’s “off-year” state legislative elections are heating up, and Republicans are relying heavily on Google and YouTube ads to attack their opponents. The House Republican Campaign Committee has spent around $70,000 in the past month on these ads - far more than their Democratic rivals. It’s a shift in the state from 2021, when Democrats and their allies consistently outspent the GOP online.
Here’s an example of how Virginia Republicans are approaching the campaign:
…and on Snapchat, political campaigns and organizations in the United States have spent around $1.6 million on advertising in 2023. Here are the top ten spenders YTD:
Your 2024 digital dispatch
FWIW, here’s how much money likely or confirmed 2024 presidential candidates have spent on Facebook + Google ads to date (1/1 - 8/12):
While this data on national ad spending is intriguing, here’s how much the candidates are actually spending to reach GOP voters in Iowa. We see you, Tim Scott.
Donald Trump was indicted again.
Former Rep. Will Hurd announced yesterday that he has met the 40,000 donor threshold to qualify for the first RNC debate, slated for next Wednesday.
A SuperPAC supporting Ron DeSantis leaked a memo full of advice for the Florida Governor ahead of next Wednesday’s debate. Among the tips: Defend Trump.
From around the internet
John Fetterman’s digital team was legendary at capitalizing on memes and cultural moments during the 2022 election cycle… and it appears they’ve still got it
A popular Democratic tech company is shutting down due to its association with the crypto-fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried
Conservatives have a new country anthem that some chronically online liberals are upset about
Major media moves that will impact 2024
Americans’ media consumption habits are changing rapidly ahead of next year’s elections, and that shift will have major implications for how campaigns and organizations on both sides of the political spectrum can effectively reach voters.
These shifts have been chronicled in several major media stories I’ve seen in the past few weeks. Here’s a breakdown of what they mean for our politics (especially online):
“The fragmentation election”
A few weeks ago, Max Tani at Semafor wrote that “The campaign for the American presidency is playing out across an unprecedented, fragmented new media landscape and leaving campaigns, voters, and political observers alike struggling to figure out what exactly is going on.”
There was a brief period of time in our not-so-distant political history where voters were pretty much reached by old-school local news hits, television ads, and some social media posts from the campaigns themselves on a few major sites like Facebook and Twitter. No longer.
Instead, Americans are getting their news and information from an infinite variety of sources online and off – think podcasts, newsletters, streaming apps, emerging social platforms, random Instagram creators, and private messaging apps, to name a few – and campaigns and other political actors would be wise to take advantage.
Broadcast and cable down
Just this week, Sara Fischer at AXIOS reported that for the first time ever, broadcast and cable usage fell below 50% of total TV usage in the U.S. Specifically, cable news consumption continues to decline to pretty shocking lows: at one point earlier this year, CNN was averaging just 400,000 viewers a day.
Advertising on those mediums has historically been central to how campaigns and PACs reach voters - but cycle after cycle, they continue to decline in relevance for the average American.
Especially for Democrats trying to reach younger audiences, this trend is significant to take note of.
From news *outlets* to news *accounts*
While many of us are bingeing cultural or other entertainment programming on streaming services like Hulu or Netflix, that’s not really where we turn for political news and information. I’ve long been obsessed with news distribution on Instagram, which has become pretty much the only remaining social platform where many friends of my generation and I spend our time.
That’s why I was fascinated by Christian Paz’s report in Vox this week about Pop Crave, which regularly (and anonymously) distributes pop culture and news content in swipeable or skimmable formats to its audience of +1.5 million followers across a few social platforms.
As Paz notes in his piece, “The phenomenon fits into a larger shift in digital news consumption: of social media and informal alternative news sources supplanting traditional media as sources of information for Americans, and of “incidental exposure” — an academic term to describe the process by which individuals encounter news or information without actively searching for it.”
One digital strategist cleverly put it this way:
Pop Crave is just one example of the larger trend. In DC, I get my local news almost exclusively from the @WashingtonianProbs Instagram account, which aggregates everything from breaking crime alerts to user-submitted content, hilarious locals-only memes, and viral vertical videos.
The changing face of political news
It’s within that context that several left-of-center media projects continue to grow rapidly. I did a quick inventory of the Instagram and TikTok audiences of several emerging news brands in that space:
This chart is by no means exhaustive - there are dozens more major accounts and news brands tied to individual influencers (like David Pakman or Brian Tyler Cohen). But it does show an emerging commitment by these companies to begin building audiences on platforms where Americans spend more of their time, as opposed to doubling down on dying sites like Twitter or Facebook. Most of the above audiences have been built in the few years since the 2020 election.
One of those is COURIER, a digital-first civic media network that owns local newsrooms in nine states. COURIER has amassed an impressive amount of local audiences in places like Wisconsin and Florida and is expanding this fall to even more states. Just in the past week, COURIER’s reporters have eaten twinkies with the Governor of Minnesota, were kicked out of a Ron DeSantis event, featured on MSNBC, exposed a GOP Congressman’s financial ties to an insurrectionist, found a Congressional candidate scrubbed his website of his abortion positions, and interviewed the Governor of Michigan. The company is on fire.
On Tuesday, COURIER announced the company’s growth plans in a story authored by Sara Fischer at AXIOS, and not to bury the lede, but myself and Lucy have joined the team there to launch a new “pro-Democracy” content vertical this fall.
I’ll have lots more to share in the future on those plans, but for now, you should know that we’ll continue publishing this newsletter through the 2024 election every Friday, just like we’ve done for almost five years. In the meantime, if you want to hear more or share ideas for new content and partnerships, shoot me a reply to this email.
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