Earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump released his first paid television ad in Iowa and New Hampshire. Prior to these new ads, Trump had only been spending money on radio ads, and relied mostly on earned media for television, such as his appearance on Saturday Night Live in November. Despite spending a limited amount on ads, Trump has stayed on top of the polls, with a significant lead over both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.
According to the Washington Post between nine and ten million viewers tuned in to watch Trump on SNL, making it one of the most watched episodes of the last year. For his new TV ads, Trump spent $1.9 million for them to run in Iowa and New Hampshire. Research for ad-tracking software shows that Trump is set to spend $750,000 on broadcast TV ads in Iowa and $800,000 on broadcast and cable TV ads in New Hampshire.
According to an article in the Independent Journal, “Trump received close to $2.5 million in free coverage from the news media. That translates into $1.32 in earned media (i.e. free) for every $1 his campaign spent.” Politico reports that national news networks such as Fox News, MSNBC and CNN also picked up Trump’s ad, and played the spot 40 times on Monday and Tuesday, following its release. When breaking down it down by cost, Politico further reports that these airings would have cost Trump close to $330,000.
What’s apparent here is that Trump clearly understands the value of earned media, and how it can be one of the most effective ways to get your message across to a larger audience. As the campaign continues, it will be interesting to see whether he continues to rely on earning media, or if he starts spending more on paid ads.