Will Advertising Spend Determine Midterm Election Political Outcome?

Search became the political battlefield for this midterm election, with advertisers reaching out to attract voters. Some wonder whether the data from advertising spend can determine the outcome.

Adthena released a new report that details key battleground ad spends, the biggest ad “battleground,” key political action committees funding the candidates, and more ahead of announcing the voting results.

Florida with $6.8 million, California with $4.9 million, and Missouri with $4.1 million led the way in political ad spend since May.

Based on Google data, advertisers believe that battleground states Missouri, Tennessee with $3.9 million in spend, and Arizona with $3.6 million in spend will determine the midterm elections.

“The micro-targeting is interesting because you can see the congressional ad spend in the Google data,” said Patrick Hong, digital content strategist at Adthena.

The data analyzed comes from Google’s transparency project, a platform that reveals political advertising across search, YouTube, display and all devices including desktop and mobile.



“It will be really interesting if the ad spend influences the results of the election,” he said, stopping short of making any predictions for the outcome. “One thing surprising is the Beto for Texas advertising campaign and the concentration of ad spend in congressional districts. In Las Vegas, for example, there’s a lot of Republican negative video ad efforts.”

Stopping short of making a prediction, he points to the Google data targeting specific age groups and congressional districts.

Republican organizations outspent Democratic organizations on Google, at $18 million vs. $11 million respectively.

Some ads, for example, encourage voters to take a survey or sign petitions demanding “The Wall,” which drove $1.6 million in political advertiser spend.

The data suggests that the Senate Leadership Fund -- the biggest spending Super PAC committed to “protecting and expanding the Republican Senate Majority” -- dramatically raised its weekly political spend in September.

The term Beto O’Rourke, from May through November 2018, drove the greatest political ad spend with more than $2.2 million spent on the term during 2018.

The keywords rick scott came in second at about 1.8 million, followed by ted cruz, which drove $400,000 in ad spend, and heidi heitkamp, with just a bit less.


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