The Trump Campaign's Ad Strategy Just Got Extra Confusing

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The Ad Age Presidential Campaign Ad Scorecard is sponsored by The Trade Desk

Editor's note: Here's the 34th installment of the 2016 Presidential Campaign Ad Scorecard. The chart below represents a collaboration between the Ad Age Datacenter -- specifically, Kevin Brown, Bradley Johnson and Catherine Wolf -- and Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), together with Ad Age Digital Content Producer Chen Wu. Some context from Simon Dumenco follows. --Ken Wheaton

Donald Trump in a recent ad from his campaign.
Donald Trump in a recent ad from his campaign. Credit: Donald J. Trump for President via YouTube

Back in June, as we noted in a previous edition of Campaign Scorecard, Donald Trump expressed this view on political advertising (as quoted by the Associated Press): "I don't even know why I need so much money. You know, I go around, I make speeches, I talk to reporters. I don't even need commercials, if you want to know the truth." And indeed, the Trump campaign went through a long advertising drought over the summer, only releasing its first ad for the general election on Aug. 19.

But at some point recently, apparently someone in the Trump organization convinced the candidate that his campaign needed to step on the advertising gas pedal. On Sept. 24, the AP quoted Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller as saying that they were planning $140 million in ad buys leading up to Election Day. And then in last Friday's Campaign Scorecard, we reported that the Trump campaign, over the previous week, had rapidly booked roughly $30 million in TV and radio advertising time through Election Day.

You'd think that with the election now just four weeks away, there'd be another major surge in ad-time booking for Trump ads.

But no. Over the past 7-day period, the Trump campaign booked only about $5 million to $6 million in additional advertising through Election Day.

And today medialand is abuzz with word about Trump campaign ad cancellations. Per Maggie Haberman, presidential campaign correspondent at The New York Times:

Per Chris Hayes of MSNBC:

We've updated the map chart we presented last week -- a look at the top 25 media markets with booked TV and radio spending by both Team Trump and Team Clinton, including the PACs that support them. The map below is interactive: mouse over (or on mobile, tap on) the blue dots (Team Clinton) and red diamonds (Team Trump) to see who's spending what where.

As you can see, Team Trump is spending most heavily in one swing state: Florida -- where, of course, Hurricane Matthew, the evacuations surrounding the storm and the recovery efforts in its aftermath will seriously disrupt broadcasts and the audiences for those broadcasts.

Ad Age 2016 Presidential Campaign Ad Scorecard
Hot spots: Advertising in 25 markets with the most booked spending on TV and radio from Oct. 7 through Nov. 7
Other spending: $41,775,121.
Total spending: $152,973,651.
Source: Ad Age analysis of data from Kantar Media's CMAG.
Spending and ad buys (future buys subject to change) for presidential campaigns, PACs and advocacy groups from Oct. 7, 2016, through Nov. 7, 2016, as of Oct. 6, 2016.
Pay structures differ for candidates and PACs. Candidates pay the lowest unit rate. PACs pay whatever the market will bear.
Data exclude spending on cable TV networks, broadcast TV networks and national radio.
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