What Happens To The Bloomberg Ad Money Now?

Michael Bloomberg’s Democratic primary campaign is finished, but is the Bloomberg media machine exiting the race as well?

There is only speculation about how and how much Bloomberg will invest to back Joe Biden, who he endorsed when he dropped out, or on liberal advocacy campaigns. He seems intent on remaining a force in the race, so to speak.

— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) March 4, 2020

Although Bloomberg’s campaign derailed after Super Tuesday, he has a large contingent of supporters in digital media and ad tech. And his spending also affects annual goals and bonuses for people across the industry.

“Bloomberg is outspending every candidate and political organization combined on TV and online right now,” eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom told AdExchanger last month, when the market research company released its first political advertising forecast. “So any shift in his strategy or change in that dynamic would dramatically shift the forecast for political advertising overall.”

The end of Bloomberg’s campaign is not the nightmare scenario for his paid media beneficiaries, said one political media consultant. If Sen. Bernie Sanders had won a decisive victory and looked on track to win a large plurality or even an outright majority of primary delegates, Bloomberg may have closed the tap on ads, since he doesn’t back Sanders and because Sanders has rejected billionaires’ supporting his campaign.

But since Biden won an unexpected victory and now leads in delegates – and has unseated Bernie as the consensus frontrunner – Bloomberg will likely remain a major driver of political advertising this cycle. He’s pledged to keep open campaign offices in key general election states and pay thousands of staffers through the election in November.

And in only 100 days on the trail, the Bloomberg campaign blazed multiple potential trails for future candidates and interest groups.

For deep-pocketed political advertisers, he showed how the primary delegate map can be gamed to pick up pockets of votes in inaccessible suburban media markets in states like California and Texas. In wealthy suburbs of San Antonio and Houston, for instance, he was able to pick up tens of thousands of votes and qualify for delegates. In some of those markets, he had 95% or more of political TV ad penetration.

In some Texas and California counties where Bloomberg won enough votes to earn delegates, there were zero other candidates on the air, because those campaigns are tightly budgeted and so aren’t willing to pay the premium for ad time when they don’t expect to compete statewide, even if there are appealing suburban voters.

And even for the average bootstrapped candidate campaign, Bloomberg was the first to try brand-style social media influencer marketing campaigns.

A DTC toothbrush startup doesn’t care if its influencer roster actually brushes their teeth with an Oral-B toothbrush, as long as those influencers create sales for its brand.

“I hope that spirit of experimentation continues,” said a digital media buyer who worked for Tom Steyer’s campaign, another billionaire who dropped out of the race this past week. “You can’t just throw money at a race and win. But political advertisers should learn from a more market-based attitude about spending on digital media and ROI.”

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