Image: Facebook Ad Library Report | Facebook ad spend over the last 7 days

Even for the wildest of political animals, the 2020 presidential election cycle has been quite a ride. As sports announcers like to say, it’s still anybody’s game. And though pollsters try, there’s no way to predict the outcome. However, as Ad Age points out, ad spends can reveal a lot about strategy. Here are a couple of takeaways that also lend themselves to advertising truisms.

A big-budget is one way to get attention

According to Forbes, media mogul Mike Bloomberg is worth $62 billion. And though he didn’t enter the fray until late November, so far he’s spent an estimated $419 million on advertising, which would put him at No. 118—that’s higher than household names like Kraft Heinz Co. and Hershey—on the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers ranking. The high-roller spending got him to the debate stage but his Democratic contenders used his billions against him when he got there.

Underinvesting will bite you in the a**

In what might have been an ill-advised show of confidence, Joe Biden, once the presumed frontrunner, failed to advertise much in the early-voting states, and he lost big. And, according to Politico, that won’t change. Biden has announced a measly “six-figure Super Tuesday ad campaign” while Bernie Sanders booked $13.5 million and Bloomberg a whopping $183 million to blanket radio and TV. (Yep, Tuesday is going to suck.)

Biden has spent just $517,000 on Facebook ads over the last 30 days (that’s a third of what Buttigieg spent and .013% what Bloomberg spent).

Thinking outside the box pays off

Bernie Sanders has made it a point to solicit small donations from a non-wealthy base, and he’s perhaps the first candidate who’s done a good job harnessing the power of Reddit to do so. Reddit doesn’t report on political ad spending, but it’s known that Sanders advertises on the platform frequently.

Sanders has doubled spending on Facebook over the last 30 days (as compared to the prior 30 days) along with Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar. Elizabeth Warren’s spend on Facebook has held steady at ~ $1 million a month.

Timing is everything

Trump’s spend on Facebook and Instagram has crept up over the last 30 days from $2.76 million to $4.18 million, but his spend is still dwarfed by fellow tycoon, Mike Bloomberg. Aside from that Super Bowl ad, incumbent Donald Trump hasn’t done much in terms of TV and radio advertising. With no real threat in primaries, he has the luxury of biding his time—and amassing donations—so that, come fall, he can go big—dare we say “yuge?”—on an advertising blitz.

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