The 2016 election cycle has already broken barriers and shown disregard for political norms. The marketing and advertising landscape has likewise defied expectations.
Last year, Borrell Associates projected that$11.4 billion would be spent on political advertising in the 2016 election cycle. A new report now estimates $11.7 billion in spending. More precisely, Borrell has added 3.1% to their initial forecasts, representing $357 million more spending than initially expected.
The report explains that “given the intensity of the political scene thus far -- and the likelihood of that drama playing out the remainder of the year -- we’re pushing our forecasts 3.1% higher.”
Total (national, state and local) radio and online/digital spending had the highest percentage increase in Borrell’s new projections. Expected radio spend increased 10.8% from $827 million to $916 million, suggesting a focus on targeting conservative and minority voters who actively listen to and trust their preferred radio shows.
Online and digital spend had the next highest increase in Borrell’s revision, up 8.2% from $1.076 billion to $1.165 billion.
Of the total ad spend, broadcast TV still retains the lion’s share at 50.1%. Cable TV is the second-most-invested medium at 10.1%, closely followed by online/digital spend, which captures 9.9% of the total.
Around $280 million has been spent across 40 states in primary advertising for presidential candidates. As reported, a candidate's’ advertising numbers, this cycle, have a very weak correlation to actual votes.
Borrell coins this the “Trump effect.”
Sourcing MediaQuant and The New York Times, Borrell reports that the ratio of earned to paid media for GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, is 189.9. This means, for every $1 spent on advertising, Trump benefits from $189.9 in free airtime.
“Trump received twice as much media coverage as seven other candidates combined,” including Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, Kasich, Rubio, Carson and Christie. For reference, the candidate who had the second-highest paid to earned media ratio was Hillary Clinton at $26.6 earned per dollar spent.
The difference is massive and telling of the amazing media blitz Trump has orchestrated over the past many months.
The Borrell paper astutely framed how this cycle could very well become a watershed moment in political advertising: “If Trump’s skill can be quantified and effectively replicated by others, it will change political advertising permanently.”