Digital Spending on Facebook by Geography

By Roshaan Siddiqui (’22) and Pavel Oleinikov

In its tracking of campaign spending on Facebook, Wesleyan Media Project focuses on identifying the sources of money behind the ads. Facebook requires that advertisers post the “Paid for By” disclaimer, listing the organization that paid for the ad. Often, the same organization will engage dozens of Facebook pages to post the ads. Together with the Center for Responsible Politics, WMP matches the Facebook records against external data to identify the sponsors behind political ads. The numbers you are seeing in the map are an aggregation of the amounts posted by Facebook in the spending reports on the Facebook Ad Library webpage. We report the spending by week, with Sunday being the first day of a week.

Please click here (or click the image below) to use this interactive tool.

Long-term monitoring helps identify gaps in Facebook reporting

By Pavel Oleinikov

In Facebook’s Ad Library, Facebook reports spending on political advertisements by day, week, 30-day, and 90-day summaries, and total spending to date by Facebook Page and Disclaimer (for example, Page: Donald J. Trump, Disclaimer: TRUMP MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN COMMITTEE).

Through long-term monitoring of the Facebook reports, we became aware that not every day’s numbers can be trusted the same. An analyst or a reporter who decides to use a daily download from Facebook may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

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Coronavirus coverage minimal in presidential candidate digital advertising

Tracking Facebook ad references to the pandemic from candidates and their affiliated pages

By Conner Sexton and Spencer Dean


Presidential campaigns, including leadership PACs and single-candidate super PACs, have spent upwards of $185 million on Facebook advertisements since the beginning of 2019, as reported by the Wesleyan Media Project. By comparison, $751 million has been spent on TV ads from all sponsors in the presidential race. In recent weeks, as a narrowing of the field coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, the volume of TV advertisements seems to have decreased significantly.

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