Regardless of your political affiliation, it’s safe to say we can all agree on one thing: This election has made its mark on the digital advertising ecosystem. The 2008 election marked the first major political foray into new media, but in this election cycle, digital is a core component of both campaigns. But, it wasn’t just any media drawing the attention of millions of voters; it was the digital advertisements candidates ran across platforms. Videos, photos, status updates, tweets, and absolutely any other form of digital advertising you can imagine was used to its fullest potential among the 2016 presidential candidates.
More than half of U.S. political ad agency professionals anticipate advertising budget increases of up to 20% in the 2016 election. Digital media advertising will benefit from some of the increased budgets, garnering a projected 10% of total political ad spending, although some U.S. political ad agency professionals anticipate that number will be closer to 20%. While the digital share lags behind the broader ad market (35.8% of ad dollars will go to digital in 2016), it is still an exponential increase from elections in the past. In 2012, digital advertising only accounted for 1.8% of total political advertising.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign has dominated broadcast advertising, such as TV and radio. In fact, the ad spend gap between the campaigns is unprecedented. A recent AdAge article highlights, “[f]rom July 14 through Nov. 7 (including advance buys), Mr. Trump and his PAC supporters have booked a mere $654,455 in TV and radio advertising vs. $111 million by Hillary Clinton and pro-Clinton PACs.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s campaign has focused almost exclusively on digital. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Trump campaign “spent $1.6 million on digital consulting and online advertising in June, according to its Federal Elections Commission filing.” That’s in contrast to the $353,000 the Clinton campaign spent on online advertising during that same span. (However, this figure doesn’t include the whopping $35 million the super PAC supporting Clinton set aside to spend online.)
Nonetheless, elections will continue to change the digital advertising ecosystem and how potential voters engage with candidates.