Trump, Biden Lay Out Big Ad Spend, But What's The Engagement Payoff?

Democratic candidate Joe Biden now holds the record for overall political advertising spending for a presidential election -- $582.7 million with just days to go before the big day, according to Advertising Analytics.

Second place? Not Donald Trump. That belongs to another Democratic Presidential candidate, Michael Bloomberg, who clocks in at $582.0 million — and over a much shorter period than either Biden or Trump.

Trump isn’t too far behind these two, at $342 million. All three totals look at all spending from 2019 through the first two weeks of October 2020.

By way of comparison, in 2016, Hillary Clinton was at $565 million, according to other estimates. The Trump Campaign was $238.9 million, plus another $66 million of Trump's own money.

A reasonable question: What’s the marketing engagement? Some polls might suggest Biden is getting his fair share for his money -- as his numbers are up around 8% to 10% over Trump, looking at national polls.



We have heard all this before. In early October 2016, Clinton was also up about 8% or so vs. Trump, then lost the election four weeks later, though she easily won the popular vote by 3 million more votes than Trump.

One current measure shows the Trump campaign doing somewhat better in digital media. Since starting a nightly online broadcast one month ago, the platform has attracted nearly 300 million views across its social-media platforms, according to NBC News. And in a recent week earlier this month, there were 66 million views.

We do know “views” should not be confused with potential voters. They can be typically much higher than traditional Nielsen-measure TV viewing metrics, which is based on average commercial minute viewing.

Rough digital media comparisons from the Biden campaign show more than 63 million “people,” have engaged with his online content overall, including livestreams, speeches, press briefings and interviews since March -- much of this coming from virtual rally events, reports NBC News. Also, Biden-hosted a “SOUL of the Nation” digital rally, attracting 340,000 live views.

And yet, when head-to-head traditional TV competition is observed -- the dueling ABC and NBC “Town Hall” events with Biden and Trump respectively -- Biden earned a 3.8 million Nielsen-measured viewer edge, 15.3 million versus Trump’s 11.5 million viewers. Is that the “engagement” metric?

Of course, the ultimate engagement is in actual voting — and we'll just learn preliminary results on election night -- given all the mail-in and pre-Election Day voting.

Who is buying into current political products? It depends on your definition of button or click -- remote TV/mobile/laptop.

Lessons learned for candidates when considering how Bloomberg (and Clinton) performed ad-wise: The bang for the marketing buck doesn’t always click -- or result in one.

1 comment about "Trump, Biden Lay Out Big Ad Spend, But What's The Engagement Payoff?".
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  1. Robert Dahill from GaleForce Digital, October 27, 2020 at 10:24 a.m.

    Wayne, I thought there are firms that measure engagement and offer metrics to support their findings?

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