The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

US Presidential Election Media Donald Trump

How free media coverage is helping Trump triumph with one of the smallest campaign budgets


By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

March 15, 2016 | 3 min read

Donald Trump has one of the smallest campaign budgets among those candidates running for presidency, and yet still manages to scoop up primary wins, putting him favourite to lead the republican party.

So far Trump has won at least 39 per cent of the republican vote in eight different states, with a study by Vox released today claiming if the current trends in the GOP (Republican) primary race were to continue, he would win a majority of delegates and steal the republican nomination, predicting Trump to win 18 out of the 23 remaining states left to vote.

Trump has spent less on television advertising — typically the single biggest expenditure for a campaign — than any other major candidate, according to an analysis by SMG Delta, a firm that tracks television advertising, for The New York Times.

Instead the businessman-turned-politician has benefited heavily from free earned media, which encompasses news and commentary about his campaign on TV, print and social media. A controversial figure, Trump garners the most attention from earned media than any of the other candidates. And while the press surrounding the Trump name often has a negative spin, ‘there’s no such thing as bad press’ when it has saved the candidate millions in ad spend.

The New York Times collated data by mediaQuant, a firm that tracks media coverage of each candidate and computes a dollar value based on advertising rates, to show how far ahead Trump is against his competitors in earning media. It shows Trump earned $400m worth of free media last month, about the same amount that John McCain spent on his entire 2008 presidential campaign.

Ironically, the candidate who had the highest ad spend in February - Jeb Bush - was the same one who dropped out after suffering heavy losses throughout his campaign, failing to secure any states.

Paul Senatori, mediaQuant’s chief analytics officer went as far as to say Trump “has no weakness in any of the media segments”.

Over the course of the campaign, data shows Trump has earned close to $2bn worth of media attention.

US Presidential Election Media Donald Trump

More from US Presidential Election

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +