Facebook Reveals How Much Brands Are Spending on the Midterms

One company is spending much more than all the others.
  • Information on political spending on Facebook ads is now available.
  • ExxonMobil is the largest corporate buyer of political ads.
  • Most large companies are not buying political ads on Facebook.

Facebook, under scrutiny for transparency with respect to political ads, has made available a report that shows just how much brands are spending to influence your vote. The Ad Archive Report details the amount of money spent by companies, politicians, political action committees and other entities on political advertising.

According to the report, 1,677,184 ads related to “politics and issues of political importance” were placed on Facebook, for a total cost of $256,392,363. The largest spender was Facebook itself, which spent over $12.4 million during the period of May to Oct. 20. The ads Facebook has been running are focused on how the company is making Facebook more secure for elections and how voters can find reliable information on the issues. 

Companies Spending the Most on the Midterm Elections

Topping the list of corporations spending money on political ads on Facebook — besides Facebook — is ExxonMobil, which spent $1.9 million from May to Oct. 20. These are the other well-known brands that also rank as spending money on political ads on Facebook so far in 2018:

Money Spent on Political Ads on Facebook
CompanyAmount Spent
ExxonMobil$1,941,639
Penzeys Spices$714,978
Ben & Jerry’s$400,741
UnitedHealthcare$328,018
Uber$160,512
LowerMyBills$135,220
Levi’s$117,932
Best Buy$109,960
Walmart$99,744
Starbucks$67,960
Staples$67,507
Airbnb$55,161
Bank of the West$41,394
Pfizer$39,582
Motorola$23,610
Western Union$23,595
Gap$16,417
Disney ABC Television Group$14,193
Target$12,185
Nissan$10,478
Amazon Prime Video$5,279

Read: Midterm Elections Money — See Which States Raised Over $100 Million

Nonprofits also bought political ads on Facebook, including these examples of some of the biggest spenders:

Money Spent on Political Ads on Facebook
NonprofitAmount Spent
Sierra Club$778,210
Humane Society International$242,872
Amnesty International$201,214

The report shows that most large corporations stay away from political ads on Facebook. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Penzeys Spices have made a business decision to risk alienating certain customers in exchange for publicizing their political point of view, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

PACs and Candidates Are Outspending Major Companies on Campaigns

Political candidates are spending a lot of money on Facebook ads, as are super PACs and others with a vested interest in the outcome of midterm elections. Beto O’Rourke, for example — who is running for Ted Cruz’s Texas Senate seat — has spent over $5 million, and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has spent over $3 million from May to Oct. 20. 

Google and Twitter have introduced similar tools to show who is buying political ads on their platforms, but Facebook’s report appears to be the most comprehensive and easiest to use. 

Read about the most expensive races in the 2018 elections.

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