Is the Election Driving up Your CPMs?

The 2020 election cycle is predicted to set records in advertising spend across the board, with some sources predicting a total of $15 billion in political ad spending—higher than both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections. While some may have expected a decrease in political spending due to the ongoing crises including an economic fallout from the global pandemic or ongoing social unrest across the country, social distancing is limiting in-person campaign events like town halls, rallies, or canvassing which may shift into media spend. 

Spending Trend

Facebook’s Ad Library Report exposes spend for any advertising related to social issues, elections, or politics. On the presidential campaign alone, over $42 million has been spent across parties in the last 30 days, which doesn’t take into account spend from Senate (broken down by state) or House (broken down by state and district) candidates. As of the end of August, weekly political ad spending has continued to rise, with an over 200% increase in weekly spend since the beginning of July.


Because Facebook ads are purchased via auction, any changes in supply or demand may affect advertising campaigns. As we near the election, demand is increasing as politicians with large media budgets continue ramping up spend on Facebook platforms. Because political ads generally target all adults and aren’t necessarily focused in a specific vertical or niche of users, you are likely to see an increase in CPMs as a result. Looking across all Smarty data since the first week of July, CPM has steadily increased right alongside political ad spend.

Over the coming months, Smarty will be monitoring rising costs closely and providing recommendations to reduce this climb as much as possible. Focus should be kept on performance metrics at this time, such as CTR, Engagement Rate, Conversion Rate. While rising costs may be unavoidable during this time, monitoring performance metrics will ensure ads are being shown to the right people, at the right time, with the right messaging.

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