The Hard Math of the Trump Campaign's Last-Minute TV and Radio Ad Strategy

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

Editor's note: Here's the 35th 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

• Once again, Florida is getting hit the hardest. Our forecast for the Sunshine State is a lot of doom and gloom in the form of presidential campaign attack ads slated to hit TV and radio. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, some $30 million of ad time has been booked in across media markets in the state for commercials related to the presidential election -- and that doesn't even include national buys.

• Florida's state-specific total is bigger than Pennsylvania's ($13.8 million) and Ohio's ($13.5 million) combined.

• Throw in North Carolina ($10.5 million) and the bottom line is that these four states will have to endure $68 million worth of presidential-campaign TV and radio ads -- again, not counting ads the residents of those states may be seeing and hearing as part of national buys.

• As we noted in the previous edition of Campaign Scorecard, word spread last Friday that the Trump campaign was suddenly and mysteriously cancelling a bunch of TV ad buys in various markets. The campaign later explained that ad buys were simply being strategically reallocated -- countering theories that the embattled Trump team was perhaps giving up in certain media markets and trying to conserve cash. But our analysis is that the campaign did, in fact, generally reallocate, engaging in new ad bookings that replaced the canceled bookings.

• That said, the Trump campaign and the PACs that support it are continuing to be outspent, in most cases by wide margins, in swing states including Florida (more on that in a moment), by the Clinton campaign and the PACs that support it.

• Our map below shows spending by the top 25 battleground media markets with booked TV and radio spending by both Team Trump and Team Clinton, including the PACs that support them. The map 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. For instance, in the Jacksonville, Fla. media market: $560,723 by Team Trump and $1,534,015 by Team Clinton. And $2,572,384 by Team Trump and $5,959,737 by Team Clinton in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale media market.

• As we noted two weeks ago in Campaign Scorecard, a Sept. 24 Associated Press report cited a Trump official who said the campaign was planning a last-minute $140 million ad blitz -- though the AP also noted the campaign didn't have nearly enough money in the bank to execute on the plan, so it would have to lean on "Republican allies" and engage in intensive fundraising to be able to follow through. In our week-ago Campaign Scorecard we weren't seeing ad buying from Team Trump that would put it on pace to reach its ambitious goal. But maybe "Republican allies" will help close the gap? Uh, well, maybe not. See Politico's Thursday report titled "RNC TV ad spending for Trump: $0."

• For an example of what the Trump campaign is spending on, see "Trump Campaign Starts Airing Attack Ad That Calls Clinton 'Dangerous'."

Ad Age 2016 Presidential Campaign Ad Scorecard
Hot spots: Advertising in 25 markets with the most booked spending on TV and radio from Oct. 14 through Nov. 7 by Team Trump (the Trump campaign and the PACs that support it) and Team Clinton (the Clinton campaign and the PACs that support it)
Other markets and national media and cable spending: $33,030,316.
Total TV and radio spending: $123,752,322.
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. 14, 2016, through Nov. 7, 2016, as of Oct. 13, 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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