Apple, Alphabet Cut Lobbying Spend As Facebook Pumps It Up: Report

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Alphabet (GOOGL)-owned Google, Apple (AAPL) and Comcast (CMCSA) have slashed spending on D.C. lobbying, according to a report Thursday from Consumer Watchdog.

Still, Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project Director John Simpson said in a statement, “It’s important to understand just how much money these companies are throwing around in Washington to buy the policies they want. Policymaking is now all about big bucks, not big ideas.”

In Q1, Google slashed spending on lobbying by 25.5% to $3.80 million, the consumer group said. AT&T (T) had the highest lobbying outlay, at $4.48 million, among the group of 16 tech and communications companies that Consumer Watchdog monitored.

AT&T rival Verizon (VZ) spent $3.59 million, up 7.2%.

Consumer Watchdog based its report on new disclosure reports from the Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Social networking leader Facebook (FB), which has been increasing its Washington presence, spent $2.78 million, up 13.9% year over year. Microsoft (MSFT) also topped $2 million in lobbying spending, Consumer Watchdog said. Microsoft reported expenditures of $2.02 million, a 6.9% increase.

Lobbying spending jumped 39% at (AMZN), to $ 2.65 million, marking the fourth consecutive quarter that the e-commerce leader’s spending topped $2 million, the disclosure records show.

Apple’s spending fell 8.9%  to $1.13 million while spending by Yahoo (YHOO) dipped 5.5% to $690,000. Cable firm Comcast (CMCSA) spent $3.72 million, a 19.5% decrease.

Digital Advertising Rising, Helped By Presidential Election

Research group eMarketer said on Thursday that spending on paid media worldwide will climb 5.7% in 2016 to $542.55 billion, propelled by increased investments in digital advertising. While down from eMarketer’s previous forecast, the amount still represents accelerated growth compared with 2015, when spending on paid media worldwide rose 5%.

Major events including the U.S. presidential election and the Rio Summer Olympics will contribute to rising ad spending, eMarketer said.

While TV remains a dominant ad spending destination, ad spend on digital channels is showing the fastest increase year over year, eMarketer said.

In the U.S., political ad spending on digital this year is estimated to nearly triple its rate of spending from 2014, says eMarketer, which adds that Nomura Securites estimates that digital will capture 9.8% of total U.S. political ad spending share this year, up from a 3.6% share in 2014.

Broadcast TV will see a 59.4% share this year compared with a 61.3% share in 2014.

In total, political advertising is expected to reach $10.2 billion this year, up from $7.49 billion in 2014 and $8.81 billion in 2012.

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