As activists from around the country gather in Washington to march for gun safety regulation, new data shows that the National Rifle Association has been aggressively resisting their message through online ads. In the weeks following the school shooting that triggered Saturday’s protests, the NRA spent more than six times its prior daily average on digital ads – including some that appeared with media intended for children.
The finding came from the digital research firm Pathmatics, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. The NRA briefly suspended its online ad efforts after a February school shooting that left 17 dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. But Pathmatics found that over the 24 days after the ads resumed, the NRA spent an average of $47,300 per day, up from an average of $11,300 per day before the murders.
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The ad spending was primarily focused on social media, with Facebook pocketing an average of $34,000 of it per day. The NRA also climbed the ranks of the biggest-spending YouTube advertisers, and Pathmatics found that some NRA ads were displayed with videos from Kids’ Toys, a very popular channel featuring two youngsters reviewing Barbie dolls and Lego playsets.
A media commentator told the Tribune that this odd placement probably showed the NRA’s desire for broad reach, rather than the targeting of any specific audience. The NRA reportedly continued to use long-running ads after the shooting, most of them aimed at increasing memberships.