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​Digital advertising is an increasingly critical expenditure category for modern campaigns, accounting for some of the biggest line items in candidates’ first quarter FEC reports. Bernier Sanders, for instance, spent nearly $1.6 million on digital ads, or nearly a third of his operating expenses, in the first three months of the year. And digital ads accounted for more than half of former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke’s $2.4 million in operating costs.
​Biden raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours following his 2020 campaign announcement, the top mark for the 2020 Democratic field so far, putting him in a position to spend. And spending heavily on Facebook ads — quick, targeted and inexpensive — will allow Biden to make up for his relatively late entry to the race, and his lack of pre-existing campaign infrastructure, and begin building up a crucial small dollar donor base.
In one Facebook ad, Biden’s campaign nods to the crowded 2020 primary field: “There are a lot of Democrats running for President. It’s going to take a truly national campaign to reach every voter and defeat Donald Trump. But that doesn’t come cheap — and I need your support. I’m reaching out to ask, can you chip in $5 to my campaign?”
Biden’s initial wave of Facebook and Google ads, at about $796,000, placed him sixth overall in terms of combined spending on both platforms by Democratic presidential candidates since the start of 2019.
​Joe Biden made an aggressive early investment in digital advertising after announcing his 2020 presidential campaign, spending nearly $800,000 on Facebook and Google ads in less than a week in the race while dwarfing the rest of the field, according to data from both tech companies.
Biden’s Facebook spending last week, at $406,860, was more than the combined total of the five 2020 Democrats who spent the most after Biden: Sen. Elizabeth Warren ($100,677), Sen. Bernie Sanders ($96,397), businessman Andrew Yang ($87,737), Gov. Jay Inslee ($56,142), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg ($55,992). Biden also spent ten times more on Facebook ads last week than the Trump 2020 re-election campaign ($39,481).
​The firm, Civis Analytics, has been advising Biden’s team on how to better connect with young voters online and improve its appeal to donors who give $200 and less, according to those familiar with the matter. Civis, which was founded in 2013 by former President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign analytics chief, Dan Wagner, has also suggested potential digital hires for Biden’s 2020 campaign, these people added.
Biden then met with an executive from Twitter and spoke with Athan Stephanopoulos, president of NowThis News, which specializes in viral short-form videos — and helped raise the national profile of O’Rourke when he ran for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas, CNBC previously reported.
Since then, Biden’s campaign has hired at least one digital advisor. PJ Alampi, a former director of accounts at multi-channel network Fullscreen Inc., recently became the campaign’s head of digital strategy. Alampi was also was a social media strategist at Epic Signal, a digital marketing company, according to his LinkedIn page.

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