This is Why You See So Many Political Ads on Your Social Media

If you’re seeing political ads before every YouTube video, after every Facebook post, it’s not a coincidence. You’re in the target audience.

By Micah Ward
News Reporter

With the 2020 election approaching, presidential candidates are doing everything they can to get their message to their audience.

One of the most prominent advertisers in the Democratic race was Mayor Mike Bloomberg. According to Bloomberg.com, he surpassed $500 billion in campaign advertising. The Washington Post reported that there were 30,000 Bloomberg ads generated a minute.

Nearly every YouTube video seemed to open with a Mike Bloomberg ad. However, not every YouTube video was suited for his ads. Political candidates often target specific audiences in order to reach the best audience fitted for their campaign.

Dr. Jameson Hayes, professor of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama, said there are benefits to targeting specific audiences.

“Advertisers can craft messages to work within a specific audience segment that is likely to purchase that product, that a particular campaign is geared toward, or that is strategically different from the competition’s target,” said Hayes. “So, different messages are effective amongst different market segments, and a broad appeal often will not work.”

Many of the candidates used their ads to appeal to their audiences through “anti-Trump” advertisements. Bloomberg, for example, spent $275 million on anti-Trump ads alone, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

While television ads have been a traditional medium for political advertising, social media has been a rising platform for candidates to share their voice. Dr. Matthew Barnidge, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism & Creative Media, said Facebook is the most popular platform for news.

“70% of the American public say they get their news from social media,” Barnidge said. “In particular, Facebook.”

Surprisingly, only 10 to 20% of Americans get their news from Twitter, he said.