Bloomberg Really Doesn’t Want Trump Taking Over the Super Bowl

Former New York mayor's campaign buys up Google search ads

a screenshot of a google search result
Michael Bloomberg's campaign is looking to dominate advertising on Google. Sources: Google, Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Key insights:

While the field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination remains crowded, the Super Bowl has become a contest between Michael Bloomberg and President Donald Trump. Both have huge budgets to spend on political ads and each has purchased 60 seconds of advertising during the game.

Even the rollout of the ads, priced at about $10 million each, has been a game of one-upmanship. Bloomberg released his 60-second Super Bowl ad early Thursday morning; Trump released one of two 30-second ads hours later.

And while viewers can watch and compare the two messages during Sunday’s game, Bloomberg is already putting advertisements on Google to compete with those seeking out the Trump ad.

When a user searches on Google for “donald trump super bowl ad,” a paid advertisement from Bloomberg’s campaign appears with the heading: “Trump’s Broken Promises | Enough Is Enough.” The link redirects users to the former New York mayor’s campaign website, featuring his own Super Bowl ad.

Bloomberg, who joined the race in late November, has not yet qualified for any of the debates. But he’s tried to make up for lost time by spending incredible amounts of money on advertising, targeting Super Tuesday states.

Bloomberg’s spending strategy has extended beyond the Super Bowl to include purchasing search terms related to his and Trump’s in-game spots “as a way to make sure the powerful story in our ad is seen by as many people as possible,” said Bloomberg national campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood. The Trump campaign didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

In an election season that has some forecasts pegging ad spend to reach $10 billion, Bloomberg isn’t holding back from purchasing ads that specifically criticize Trump’s administration, especially in battleground states.

“We will continue to do what you’ve seen: introducing Mike Bloomberg and highlighting his records as a self-made businessman, as mayor of the city of New York and as a philanthropist,” Wood said. “We’ll continue to introduce his background and draw contrast to the president.”

He’s made good use of that strategy, too, by purchasing ads based on what terms people are searching for, as he did for “impeachment,” as reported by The New York Times.

Bloomberg is the top spender on Google overall, compared to other 2020 hopefuls, having spent a mind-boggling $27.4 million since May 2018. The committee to re-elect President Trump has spent the second-most on the platform at $9.8 million, and Tom Steyer is third with $6 million, according to Google’s Transparency Report.

Taking out ads based on keyword searches is a tactic Bloomberg is using to cut through the ad noise of the Super Bowl, but it’s also a way for other competitors who haven’t dropped $10 million to capitalize on the event.

“Use the surrounding content that people may be visiting to hit them where they are, without having to run an ad in the Super Bowl itself,” said Allan Welch, director of political and government affairs at online video advertising platform SpotX. “It’s keeping them in the zeitgeist going forward.”

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2020 Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 2 for the best in-game coverage of the commercials anywhere.

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@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.