Matt Childers, Ph.D.

Exploring Digital Political Advertising on Google in 2019


Using data from Google’s political advertising transparency report that were current as of August 2019, I conducted an exploratory analysis of digital political advertising in the year before the 2020 election cycle. I wanted to get a sense of how political campaigns were using the platform and which ones were the most active. From research and news coverage, we know a lot about advertising in presidential and congressional election years (like 2016 and 2018, respectively), but we do not know a lot about advertising in the time between them.

Major Questions

  1. What political organizations are using digital advertising in 2019? Are they primarily presidential campaigns or are they a mix of campaigns and interest groups?
  2. Is there a lot of variation between organizations in how much they are spending on digital ads and the number of people exposed to them?
  3. Which types of ads are organizations airing the most (text, video, or images)?

You can view the project notebook here, but you can see some highlights below.

A Few Plots