By Jillian Farrell
To run ads on Facebook, advertisers must connect their ads to a particular Facebook page that they administer. However, Facebook does not limit advertisers to running ads from a single Facebook page. Advertisers are free to run ads from as many different pages they administer as they so desire. This creates opportunities for running ads from pages tailored specifically to align well with particular demographics. For example, the Trump campaign has been running ads from over 20 different Facebook pages so far this year. Several of these pages are targeted at specific demographics, including Black Voices for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Women for Trump, Evangelicals for Trump, Catholics for Trump, and Veterans for Trump.
|Account||Created On||Started Ads||Least Active Month (Since Posting Started)||Most Active Month|
|Black Voices for Trump||June 19, 2019||February 12, 2020||April 2020 (~93 ads)||March 2020 (~2,000 ads)|
|Latinos for Trump||June 17, 2019||April 20, 2020||May 2020 (~140 ads)||June 2020 (~2,300 ads)|
|Women for Trump||June 19, 2019||January 14, 2020||February 2020 (~180 ads)||June 2020 (~3,000 ads)|
|Evangelicals for Trump||December 13, 2019||May 14, 2020||August 2020 (~ 45 ads)||June 2020 (~1,800 ads)|
|Catholics for Trump||December 13, 2019||August 26, 2020||September 2020 (~ 10 ads)||August 2020 (~48 ads)|
|Veterans for Trump||March 20, 2020||June 25, 2020||September 2020 (no new ads)||June 2020 (~940 ads)|
These pages slowed down the number of ads they were running or even went inactive in August. However, following the death of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many of these accounts appear to have gained a second wind. A close examination into the ads the Trump campaign has run from these accounts provides some insight into how Trump is slightly modifying his messaging in certain instances to appeal to different demographics. The table and line graph offer an overview of each demographic page. Below is a more in-depth summary of content posted broken down by month.
Although most of these demographic pages were created in 2019, they did not begin running ads until 2020. The first to do so was Women for Trump. According to the FB Ad Library, in January of 2020, the Women for Trump page ran about 1,400 ads for a “Women for Trump Bus Tour” in Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa.
In February, Black Voices for Trump and Women for Trump each exclusively ran ads for hats. Black Voices for Trump was advertising two different hat designs, one had the text “Black Voices for Trump” and the other said “Woke.” Women for Trump had two hats as well, one was the standard MAGA hat, but in pink, and another had the text “Women for Trump” on it.
In March, the Trump campaign began running ads from these pages asking viewers to donate to his campaign. The campaign used different phrases/categories for the different targeted demographics. The ads from the Black Voices page instructed viewers to text “WOKE” to 88022 to show their support and chip in, while the ads from the Women for Trump page instructed viewers to text “EMPOWER” in order to register for the Women for Trump LIVE! Panel with Lara Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, and Chris Carr.
April was one of the least homogeneous months when it came to the ads from these pages: Black Voices ran under 100 ads, and they were all for a Black Voices for Trump online talk with Katerina Pierson. Women for Trump ran almost 500 ads for signing First Lady Melania Trump’s birthday card, and an ad for registering for an online Trump “Empower Hour” event. April was the first month of activity for Latinos for Trump, where a little under 400 ads were run. These included ads focused on how Trump cares for small businesses and ads about how the SBA loan program was a success under his leadership.
In May, Women for Trump ran ads asking for donations to defeat Joe Biden, ads encouraging viewers to participate in a Trump approval poll or subscribe to texts, and ads for “MAGA Mama” merchandise. Black Voices for Trump ran ads for donations, approval polls, and ads for subscribing to texts.
Latinos for Trump also ran ads for donations, approval polls, and ads encouraging viewers to text “VAMOS” to 88022 to join Latinos for Trump. Additionally, Women for Trump, Black Voices for Trump, and Latinos for Trump all ran ads about Israel being “our nation’s strongest ally” and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital.
May was the first time that Evangelicals for Trump started running ads. Evangelicals for Trump ran approximately 30 ads encouraging viewers to text “STAND” to 88022 in order to join Evangelicals for Trump. They also ran ads for donations and polls, but no ads about Israel. Interestingly, there were a few ads instructing to respond to an “ Official Catholics for Trump” survey that hyperlinked to an “Evangelicals for Trump” survey.
June was one of the most active months across the board. Most of the accounts ran anywhere from 1,800-3,000 ads each. The June ads had a little bit of everything: donation ads, sign Trump’s birthday card ads, ads for an “end of quarter fundraising deadline,” ads about “radical leftists ruining Trump’s rallies,” and ads for “finishing the wall.”
June was the first month that Veterans for Trump ran ads. This page ran slightly under 1,000 ads and they were only for meeting the end of quarter fundraising deadline and for taking a Trump approval poll on his official website.
Merchandise was a major focus of the ads the Trump campaign ran from these pages in July. Black Voices for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Women for Trump, and Veterans for Trump had ads for an array of merchandise. Additionally, Black Voices for Trump, Latinos for Trump, Women for Trump, Veterans for Trump, and Evangelicals for Trump all ran ads for a “July Fundraising Deadline.”
Besides the fundraising ads, Evangelicals for Trump ran a variety of pro-life and pro-religion ads that have as of yet not been run from any of the other demographic pages. For example, some of the ads proclaimed, “Join the movement today and ensure religious freedoms are kept at a top priority!” Accompanying those ads were images of Trump juxtaposed with an image of Biden cheersing with Chinese President Xi Jingping or protestors seemingly assaulting law enforcement. These ads also included statements such as “America first vs. China first” or “public safety vs. chaos and violence.”
There were also a few different pro-life ads. Most had the “public safety vs chaos & violence” or the “America first vs China first” attachment, but as a video rather than the photo used for the religious freedoms ads. Under the videos instructed to “Text STAND to 88022.” One of the ads says “Help ensure Pro-Life values are represented in Washington for four more years. Join the movement today and ensure religious freedoms are kept as a top priority!” and the other “President Trump has never stopped delivering on his promises to PROTECT the unborn, Champion religious liberty and ensure the equal treatment of ALL faiths, Put America first with EVERY decision he makes. Join Evangelicals for Trump to help re-elect President Trump and protect your religious freedoms.”
Relative to past months, the number of ads these pages ran in August drastically slowed down. August was the first time Catholics for Trump ran ads. All of these ads were about how Trump allegedly defends sacred Catholic items while Biden legitimizes violence and crime. They also made mention on how Trump courageously defends the right to life. These ads were accompanied by different photos and videos. The videos would make mention on how Trump “defends the right to life” while Biden “supports taxpayer funded abortion.” In one video, he claims to be the first president to courageously defend the right to life.
In September, each page (except for Catholics for Trump and Veterans for Trump) started running a large number of ads again. The influx of ads appeared to have started with the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Chart Breaking Down Total Spending, and How Much of That Spending Happened in the Last Week of September
|Account||Total Money Spent||Money Spent, Sept. 27 -Oct. 3||% of total spending spent from Sept. 27- Oct. 3|
|Black Voices for Trump||$614,648||$317,117||51.6%|
|Latinos for Trump||$308,090||$100,035||32.5%|
|Women for Trump||$944,522||$371,410||39.3%|
|Evangelicals for Trump||$510,915||$249,592||48.9%|
|Catholics for Trump||$5,613||$0||0%|
|Veterans for Trump||$46,997||$0||0%|
Evangelicals for Trump started the month with a few ads about the Middle East Peace Agreement while Black Voices, Latinos, and Women for Trump ran some merchandise ads on September 15, 2020. However, after the passing of Justice Ginsburg on September 18, 2020, there was an influx of Supreme Court-related ads on each page starting September 21. These ads said “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. The President is right, we have an obligation to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, without delay! At this critical moment, he’s counting on his STRONGEST supporters, like YOU, to step up and Make America Great Again! FOR THE NEXT HOUR: ALL GIFTS 800%-MATCHED!” Some of them had the same text, but started with “Fill that seat!” They then had an attachment of a video from his press release, or a photo of Trump with Justice Kavanaugh with the caption “PROTECT the Supreme Court. Respond Now!”, or a photo of Biden with the caption, “Breaking news Democrats warn Biden against releasing list of Supreme Court Judges!” Evangelicals, Women, and Latinos for Trump ran these ads until the 23rd, and Black Voices for Trump ran them until the 26th. However, these ads were only the start. Each page followed those Supreme Court ads with many ads throughout the rest of the month.
Following the Supreme Court ads, they all ran anti-ANTIFA ads. Some of these ads stated that both ANTIFA and the KKK will be designated as terrorist organizations. The accounts also ran ads about “radical leftist taking over Joe Biden” and asking for donations. September 28, the pages started running ads congratulating Amy Coney Barrett and asking for donations.
On Latinos for Trump, there were ads saying “the silent majority is no longer silent.” On Black Voices for Trump, there were ads saying “everyone under Trump will have equal opportunity for Justice” with a video that had the caption “promises made, promises kept.”
Overall, it is interesting to see the ways in which Trump utilizes his demographic-specific pages. Although the pages often run the same ads, the pages occasionally run unique ads or slightly modify the content in an attempt to more closely align with the target demographic. Exploring the ads run from these pages across the last nine months also reveals an interesting dynamic. In July and August, the Trump campaign generally reduced the number of ads running from these pages and the ads the campaign did run from these pages were mostly for merchandise. However, there was then a major uptick in September following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This momentum followed through the first Presidential Debate, as most of the accounts spent significant proportions of the total spending on that one week alone. It is possible that Trump alternates which page or collection of pages will run more ads. It should be interesting to see if going forward, these accounts will continue posting a lot or if they will go back to being quiet, especially as the election nears.
All data is accurate as of date of publication. All spending and impression amounts are estimates based on data provided by the Facebook Ad Library API. Featured photo by David Todd McCarty on Unsplash