With primary season in full swing and Super Tuesday around the corner, it’s no surprise that many of the presidential candidates have increased their spending on campaign ads. When the 2016 presidential campaign first started, Republican candidate Donald Trump avoided spending money on ads and relied heavily on earned media, only spending on his first television ads earlier this year. Now, several months later, as Trump holds a wide lead over the field, it’s clear that his use of earned media is working in his favor.
According to a recent New York Times article, one of the reasons Trump has been so successful in his use of earned media is his reputation as an “undeniable showman who always surprises. Unlike virtually all of his competitors, who repeat the same stump speech in the hopes of getting a poll-tested message across, Mr. Trump always surprises.” The article also compared Trump’s spending on ads in Super Tuesday states with that of his three closest rivals, and noted that “Mr. Kasich, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are spending a combined $1.5 million dollars in Super Tuesday states whereas Trump has spent nothing.”
Earlier this month, Trump held a press conference a few days ahead of South Carolina’s Republican primary. A Huffington Post article reports that “he received nearly $3 million worth of airtime from three major news networks on Monday alone, the day he held a widely covered press conference in Charleston, South Carolina.” Interestingly, the article also notes that between May and June of last year, “Trump personally appeared on Fox News 10 times, more than any other candidate, for a total of one hour and 48 minutes of air time.” Free Republic further reports that since June of last year, Trump’s total air time on Fox would have “cost the Trump campaign between $37 and $55 million.”
No matter what the outcome of the Super Tuesday primaries are, what’s clear is that Trump truly understands the value of earned media, which a 2013 Nielsen report says, “is the most trusted source of information…and is the channel most likely to stimulate the consumer to action.”