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Mark Kelly spending on digital ads skyrockets as early voting approaches

By: - October 2, 2020 4:04 pm

A screenshot of an ad that Mark Kelly’s campaign aired on YouTube in late September. His campaign spent between $50,000 and $100,000 to serve the ad to Arizonans more than 1 million times. During the week this ad aired, his Republican U.S. Senate opponent, Martha McSally, spent only about $65,000 on Google and YouTube ads. Kelly has dwarfed McSally in digital spending throughout the campaign. Screenshot via YouTube

Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Kelly last week spent nearly 800% more on digital ads than Sen. Martha McSally, pumping nearly $1.2 million into advertising on Facebook and Google — more than half of which went to Facebook ads raising money from outside Arizona. 

From Sept. 20-26, Kelly spent $1,199,843 to advertise with the two companies. The ads have run on Facebook, Instagram, Google and YouTube. In the same week, McSally spent $155,336.

A series of Facebook ads purchased by the Kelly campaign urging for donations to the campaign to fight against “Mitch McConnell dark money groups” is being shown mostly in California and New York. 

Approximately 20% of the people who are seeing the ad currently are in California and only 2% are in Arizona, according to Facebook’s data. 

From Sept. 20 to Sept. 26, the Kelly campaign spent $765,343 on Facebook ads. Only $63,000 — about 8% — was for ads aimed at Arizona voters. In total the campaign has spent $5.4 million on the social network since January, according to data gathered by ACRONYM, a progressive nonprofit. 

McSally, a Republican, has also been targeting her Facebook ads outside of the state. 

“Help us fight back,” says one ad by McSally asking for donations. Approximately 13% of the people who are currently seeing the ad are in California, 11% are in Texas and 4% in Arizona. 

From Sept. 23 to Sept. 29, the McSally campaign has spent $93,436 on Facebook ads — about 21% delivered to Arizonans — and in total the campaign has spent more than $1.9 million since January. 

Early voting begins Oct. 7.

Kelly also has launched into a new digital domain for advertising to voters: Snapchat. 

The Snapchat ad campaign began this week with the campaign shelling out $11,653 to get more than 1.2 million ad impressions. Unlike his Facebook ads, Kelly’s Snapchat ads targeted Arizona specifically. 

On Google, Kelly has spent a total of $2.1 million on 355 ads since May 31, 2018, according to Google. However, the campaign has increased its spending on Google significantly in the past few weeks. 

On Sept. 5 the campaign was spending only $100,300 but by Sept. 19, the campaign was spending $434,100 a week on Google ads. The spending is the most the campaign has ever spent on Google ad buys, which are used for YouTube advertisements and ads within Google searches

Many of the Google ads are not targeted. Of those that are aimed at specific locations, all are presented to Arizona residents. 

McSally has spent $1.1 million on more than 2,500 ads since May 31. McSally’s campaign has also significantly increased her spending in the last few weeks, but not as much as the Kelly campaign. 

On Aug. 8 the campaign was spending $13,500 on Google ads and began increasing spending until Sept. 19, when the campaign cut its spend to $72,200. 

McSally is similarly using ads that are non-targeted except for that they are targeted in Arizona but do not select any particular demographic.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.