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US political ad spend hit record high in 2016 but TV lost momentum thanks to Donald Trump

One of Hillary Clinton's 2016 Election ads 'Mirrors' / Hillary Clinton campaign

Spending on political advertising in the US reached a record high of $9.8bn in 2016, with online media noting an explosion in what was the most digital presidential election to date.

Fresh research from Borrell & Associates indicates that since the last vote in 2012 overall political spend increased by 4.6%, with digital outlets taking a larger slice of the dollars and increasing their share from 1.7% to 14.4%.

Ads placed on social networks, along with programmatic pushes, received the biggest boost, with researchers estimating that two out of every five dollars spend on digital went to social channels, with Facebook being the number one destination.

According to marketing firm Giles-Parscale, July alone seen Donald Trump sink $8.4m into digital marketing, dwarfing rival Hillary Clinton's $132,500 spend in the channel over the same month.

Trump's aversion to TV ads was well documented in the run up to polling day, with the president-elect only releasing his first 'Make America Great Again' broadcast spot in August. The Republican candidate's unprecedented lack of TV spend clearly had an effect on broadcast TV political revenues, with the medium seeing its 58% market share dip to 45% since the last election.

However, despite the loss of momentum, broadcast TV spend still sat at three-times that of its closest competitor, digital.

Newspaper ads also noted a decrease in market share, declining by 7% to 6% over the same four-year period, as did out of home for which spend dropped by 1.5%.

The Borrell & Associates report states that Donald Trump spent around 34% less than previous Rebublican runner Mitt Romney who shelled out $1bn on advertising in 2012. While Clinton came up almost equal equal with the $1.1bn spend by Obama in the last race.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is The Drum's breaking news and social media reporter, covering how brands and media companies are using platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and beyond.

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