TikTok’s TV blitz by the numbers, plus Trump and Biden bet big on swing state ads: Datacenter Weekly
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Making sense (or not) of U.S. unemployment data
First, consider this headline: “860,000 Americans filed jobless claims last week,” from ABC News.
Straightforward enough, right? Well, no: “This week’s figure is ... the lowest since the pandemic began,” Catherine Thorbecke of ABC News writes, “yet the numbers are not directly comparable to many of the earlier weeks as the DOL [Department of Labor] announced earlier this month it was changing its methodology used to seasonally adjust the data.”
Here’s where it gets even more screwy: In a New York Times piece headlined “Why Unemployment Claims May Be Overcounted by Millions,” Ben Casselman reports that, “Since the start of the pandemic ... federal data on the unemployment insurance system has been plagued by errors, double counting and other issues.” He specifically cites “an apparent spike in fraudulent claims for benefits” as well as inconsistencies in how the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is tracked in different parts of the country.
The bottom line: Shifting methodology, fraud, creaky computer systems and reporting differences from state to state add up to wobbly jobless claims data. Caveat emptor.
TikTok, don’t stop
TikTok’s fate in the U.S. continues to be up in the air—the Trump administration said this morning that it will block upgrades of the app starting Sunday—but amid all the recent drama there has been one clear winner: the TV industry.
As Ad Age has been reporting, TikTok has been doing a lot of advertising and PR in the U.S. in recent weeks to attempt to counter the Trump administration’s criticisms and threatened total ban. A big part of that effort has involved good old-fashioned TV commercials—to the point that TikTok has vaulted into the top 50 advertisers on American television (national broadcast and cable) from mid-August forward, per data shared exclusively with Datacenter Weekly by iSpot.tv. More details:
• From Aug. 18 through Sept. 16, TikTok has spent $16.8 million on airing TV commercials, iSpot estimates.
• That outlay has bought TikTok more than 879 million TV ad impressions—and a lot of them have come from sports and sports-related programming. For instance, iSpot says that 13.2 percent were delivered by ESPN. And the NBA is responsible for serving up 17.5 percent of all TikTok TV ad impressions during its games.
• Nearly 35 percent of TikTok’s ad impressions have come during TV’s most expensive daypart: primetime.
• Flashback to the start of the continuing “It starts on TikTok” campaign, which Ad Age’s Garett Sloane covered on Aug 18: “Here’s TikTok’s new ad campaign: a love letter to its community as it faces attacks.”
The upside of tough times
Ad Age Datacenter’s Bradley Johnson wrote “Downtime Opportunity,” a 56-page white paper that examines marketing, product and media innovation in the worst of times from the Great Depression to the great coronavirus pandemic. Conclusion: Economic downturns reset the table for marketers and media, creating new rules, opportunities and brands. The report is available as a free download for Ad Age Insider and Ad Age Datacenter subscribers (or for purchase by everyone else) at AdAge.com/downtime2020.
Click for the quick take: “How marketing can thrive in the worst of times.”
This just in via the latest Ad Age Campaign Ad Scorecard:
• Trump’s campaign is set to spend $32.7 million on TV and radio advertising in Florida from Sept. 22 through Election Day, vs. $17.4 million by Biden’s campaign.
• In Pennsylvania, Trump has $11.6 million in TV/radio ads cued up, vs. Biden’s $10.1 million.
• In Michigan, Trump has $10.5 million on the books; Biden’s at $9.9 million.
• In North Carolina, it’s $14.6 million for Trump, $14.0 million for Biden.
• In Arizona, Biden is ahead with $10.5 million in booked TV/radio ad spending, vs. $5.9 million for Trump.
Keep reading here.
Everything you need to know about the nation’s leading advertisers
ICYMI: “The top 200 U.S. advertisers increased ad and marketing services spending a robust 4.6 percent in 2019 to a record $175 billion, the capstone to a decade of advertising growth,” Datacenter’s Bradley Johnson reports in a post that serves up some topline stats from Ad Age’s 65th annual Leading National Advertisers report.
That, of course, was then and this is now—but the LNA sets the essential baseline for marketers and marketing activities pre-COVID-19. And it offers the big-picture view of the brands and marketer categories that entered the coronavirus recession with the most momentum.
It’s a must-read, basically. Ad Age Datacenter subscribers, of course, get access to the full LNA report.
• “Google faces $3 billion U.K. suit over use of children’s data,” per Bloomberg News (via Ad Age).
• “NYC murders and gang violence surged over past year, data reveals,” per the New York Post.
The newsletter is brought to you by Ad Age Datacenter, the industry’s most authoritative source of competitive intel and home to the Ad Age Leading National Advertisers, the Ad Age Agency Report: World’s Biggest Agency Companies and other exclusive data-driven reports. Access or subscribe to Ad Age Datacenter at AdAge.com/Datacenter.
Ad Age Datacenter is Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson and Catherine Wolf.
This week’s newsletter was compiled and written by Simon Dumenco.