Facebook could be the big winner of the 2016 presidential election

Power rankingsdevan josephRepublican Presidential Candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush at the first Republican debate, co-sponsored by Facebook.

As the 2016 presidential election campaigns ramp up, there’s a steady stream of declarations about the winners and losers of debates, polls, and fundraising.

Regardless of which candidate takes over the Oval Office, Citi analysts say the big winner will actually be a Silicon Valley giant with Facebook edging out Google.

“In our conversations with industry sources, an overriding theme across all conversations was that Facebook and Google will be the largest recipients of political digital ad spend over the 2016 cycle,” wrote Mark May and Jason Bazinet of Citi in a note to clients Tuesday.

“Facebook specifically has seen great momentum within their political-related ad spend in recent years, as campaigns and their media buyers have developed an appreciation for the platform’s reach, targeting capabilities, as well as its growing tech stack.”

May and Bazinet estimate that the amount of ad money spent digitally for the 2016 federal elections is going to quadruple from the 2012 elections, from $US145 million to $US607 million. For all elections, including the state and local level, they expect $US1.07 billion will go to digital ads.

This will account for about 12% of all spending in federal elections, according to their estimates.

Google was the digital ad spend leader during the Obama-Romney race, but the analysts say that Facebook is poised to overtake the search giant.

“From our conversations, most believed that Google and Facebook would see between 60-85% of total digital spend over the 2016 election cycle,” said the analysts “In addition, comments also suggest that Facebook could overtake Google in 2016 as the largest recipient of political ad dollars.”

May and Bazinet point to 2 initiatives from Facebook that will allow them garner the biggest piece of the spend.

“According to media reports, Facebook is seizing its recent success and has doubled the headcount of its government and politics team since the last presidential election,” said May and Bazinet. “In addition, the social network has also rolled out new tools such as call to action features at the end of campaign videos and voter file uploads which will help campaigns better understand their supporters.”

According to their estimates, 40% of all digital ad spend will be spent on Facebook during the election cycle, totaling $US428 million.

According to the note, Twitter ranks a distant third in terms of ad interest. This surprised the analysts, and the outlook for the company is pretty dismal. Here’s May and Bazinet:

“Campaigns and their media buyers generally regard Twitter as an inferior medium for political advertising given its relatively small user base (66mn US MAUs vs. Facebook’s 213mn MAUs in the US & Canada), its large base of “decided” voters, and the credit terms extended to customers, among other reasons. Overall, Twitter was frequently cited as a distant third for ad spend, and in some cases fourth after Yahoo!’s properties.

The analysts note that the campaign spending isn’t a monumental amount of revenue for the tech giants, Facebook made just over $US4 billion last quarter alone, it certainly won’t hurt.

So it doesn’t matter who takes over in Washington, because the election’s real winner is is in Menlo Park.

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