For its research, Ahmed’s organization relied upon a commercial analytics tool called Semrush, which is used by many Fortune 500 companies and shows the Google phrases and search terms that brands advertise on. Semrush also provides estimates of the dollar amounts companies are spending on digital marketing efforts.
Based on these estimates, researchers say that the Daily Wire could have spent almost as much as $60m on more than 150 Google search term ads over the past two years on various topics. These search term ads also included such phrases as “argument against reparations”, “bill gates population control”, and “why does george soros hate america”. More than a dozen of the search terms were climate-related, including:
“the real truth about wind turbines”
The Google spokesperson would not comment on the spending estimate.
The center focused on the Daily Wire because it is among the most popular publishers on Facebook, with levels of engagement that at times have surpassed the combined digital reach of the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News and CNN.
In November 2021, the Center for Countering Digital Hate named the Daily Wire in a report as one of the top ten spreaders of climate disinformation on Facebook, along with other far-right outlets such as Breitbart, Newsmax and the Western Journal. Shapiro’s outlet, which reported more than $100m in revenue in 2021, was started with $4.7m in seed funding from Texas fracking billionaire Farris Wilks.