SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem spent several thousands of dollars to share a campaign ad with residents of Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and other states, according to data from Facebook/Meta.
Noem’s campaign, Kristi For Governor, targeted at least six of her one minute “Saddle Up” video ads for social media users outside of South Dakota from July 5 to July 12.
From July 5 to July 12, 100% of the viewers in a targeted Facebook ad were from South Carolina. Another “Saddle Up” ad received 86% of its viewers from Iowa.
Ads also received high viewership in Pennsylvania (86%), Nevada (87%), New Hampshire (80%) and Ohio (93%).
When the high end of the estimated cost provided by Meta is added up, the Noem campaign spent about $16,000 for those six ads. The estimated costs for the out-of-state ads were in the $2,000 to $2,500 range to the $3,000 to $5,000 range.
Political experts said the states targeted by Noem will be among the key swing states in the 2024 election.
But Noem is running for re-election for a four-year term as Governor in South Dakota. She has said in several media reports that she is running for governor and not for U.S. President. Noem was quoted in a July 3 story in the Hill that she would be “shocked” if Donald Trump chose her as a running mate for 2024. She said in the same story that she was focused on South Dakota.
“This ad represents what freedom is like in South Dakota under Governor Noem’s leadership. She wants to share that freedom with others around the country and encourage visitors to come and enjoy the beauty of South Dakota and the strongest economy in America,” Ian Fury of Noem’s campaign said in an email response to questions from KELOLAND News.
On June 29, the Noem campaign announced that the Kristi for Governor campaign launched a multi-week, six-figure ad buy called “Saddle Up” as part of the governor’s re-election efforts. The news release did not specify where the campaign ads were purchased and how those ads would be presented such as social media, TV, radio, newspaper and similar.
The “Saddle Up” social media ad doesn’t mention specifically that Noem is running for governor. And it doesn’t specifically invite residents in those other states to move to South Dakota but says that people are moving to the state.
The ad cites the loss of her father and the grit it took to save the family’s ranch. Noem touted her response to COVID-19 and the strength of the state’s economy.
The South Dakota Department of Tourism markets the state to potential visitors.
In September of 2020, Noem announced she’d be using $5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money to market tourism for the state.
The state has also spent money to market law enforcement openings. And Noem has invited residents from other states to move to South Dakota in other social media posts.
But the “Saddle Up” ad is different because it’s paid by Kristi for Governor.
And the social media ads are targeted at states, according to numbers where Noem’s ads were the most popular, that don’t provide the most visitors to South Dakota, according to the South Dakota tourism department.
The 2022 marketing campaign lists these primary markets: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Minnesota, Nebraska and North Dakota. Some of the six Noem campaign ads did get impressions in Texas and Illinois, for example, but those were single-digit percentages.
A 2016-2018 leisure travel report for the state’s tourism department said most of the state’s leisure travelers are from South Dakota. Here’s a breakdown by percentage from the most popular states: 12% Minnesota, 8% Iowa, 6% Nebraska, 4% Colorado, 4% Wisconsin, 3% North Dakota and 3% Wyoming.
In 2021, most of the visitors to parks in South Dakota were from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with 1.5 million visitors, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
The six ads generated at least an estimated impressions of at least 700,000, based on the high end of audience impressions from Meta.
In addition to the out-of-state social media ads, the Noem campaign also had several ads in which a higher percentage of impressions were in South Dakota.