Viamedia, the largest independent cable TV ad management company, found a common pattern among winning Senate campaigns in battleground states and the use of local cable TV advertising: the campaign that spent more on local cable TV ads almost always won its race.
However, there was one race in the 2016 cycle that didn’t fit with that pattern: the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Looking at local cable advertising in four key battleground states, Viamedia reported that Hillary Clinton outspent Donald Trump nine to one – and didn’t pull out a win.
Her efforts for a targeted-ad strategy were overcome by Trump’s ability to generate billions of dollars’ worth of free media.
Pro-Clinton ad spending by her campaigns and allied super PACs “just wasn’t enough to overcome the earned (free) media strategy adopted by the populist Trump campaign,” said Mark Lieberman, Viamedia president & CEO.
Up until mid-August of 2016, Clinton campaign spent $61 million on all TV ads, while Trump’s campaign spent zero.
Even though Trump’s campaign and his supporters started spending money on TV ads in the last few months of the campaign, he still didn’t spend nearly as much as Clinton. Even without adding in spending from her super PACs, Clinton’s campaign alone spent $211 million while Trump spent $74 million.