NYU’s effort to scrape and analyze Facebook’s Political Ad Archive

Our team performed an initial analysis of Facebook’s archive of ads with political content that primarily span eight weeks from May 2018 - July 2018.


Facebook launched their searchable archive of U.S. political advertisements on May 24, 2018. We devise a data collection methodology to obtain a large set of 267,000 political ads from Facebook’s political ad archive. We find that in total, ads with political content have generated at least 1,435,089,000 impressions and have cost their sponsors $13,913,300 and possibly up to 3,884,705,000 impressions and spent $71,754,827 on advertising with U.S. political content. Individual Facebook pages that sponsor political content ads, on average, generate at least 72,501 total impressions and spend at least $703 on advertising. In our report attached below, we provide our initial analysis of Facebook’s political ad archive. We are also providing all the raw political content ads that we have collected which will be updated weekly.

Facebook Political Ad Archive Overview

According to Facebook: “The archive includes Facebook and Instagram ads that have been classified as containing political content, or content about national issues of public importance.” This archive provides an increased level of transparency of political ads on Facebook and Instagram.


We investigate the following questions in analysis section of the paper:

We also dig into our data to discover the top sponsors, pages, demographic groups based on minimum impressions garnered.

Overview of Ads

Total Ads Total Sponsors Total Pages Min/Max Impressions Min/Max Spend
267,000 9,842 19,794 1,435,089,000 - 3,884,705,000 13,913,300 - 71,754,827

Top 10 Political Sponsors by Minimum Impressions

Sponsors Sponsor Category Total Ads Impressions Spend
the Trump Make America Great Again Committee Person 4,127 26,402,000 190,400
Planned Parenthood Federation of America Non Profit 3,389 24,510,000 188,800
AAF Nation, LLC Clothing Company 862 18,380,000 78,900
NRA Non Profit 213 18,286,000 58,000
Beto for Texas Politician 377 13,040,000 194,400
Priorities USA Action and Senate Majority PAC. Political Organization, Community 2,796 12,900,000 120,600
NowThis News Site, Media News Company 35 11,601,000 7,400
Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. Person 5,396 11,263,000 83,700
4Ocean, LLC Product Service 78 10,621,000 68,200
Care2 Cause 557 10,149,000 99,900

Category of Political Sponsors

Sponsor Category # Sponsors Total Ads Total Impressions Total Spend
Non Profit 1,783 40,020 295,412,000 2,533,300
Politician 1,856 30,029 151,667,000 1,822,700
Political Candidate 3,425 34,597 128,574,000 1,321,700
Political Organization 1,391 24,240 127,932,000 1,569,800
Person 1,071 22,582 101,433,000 931,500

Top 5 Pages from Unvetted Sponsors by Minimum Impressions

Page Name Page Category Total Ads Impressions Spend
American AF Clothing Company 253 8,198,000 $103,800
NRA - National Rifle Association of America Non Profit 56 7,925,000 $78,500
I’ll go ahead and keep my guns, Thanks Media 26 7,562,000 $120,300
China Xinhua News Media News Company 44 6,835,000 $6,000
Walmart Retail Company 18 5,790,000 $51,900


Contact us

Laura Edelson
Shikhar Sakhuja
Damon McCoy