What The Presidential Candidates’ Digital Campaigns Look Like Hours Before Election Day

November 8 2016
This election is shaping up to be one of the most memorable ones in recent history - for better or for worse. We’ve looked at how both the Republican and Democratic parties have been advertising across digital channels leading up to the election, and have seen the candidates flip-flop in outspending each other. Over the last thirty days, the Hillary for America campaign has outspent the Donald J. Trump for President campaign across desktop, mobile/tablet, and video, with at least 80% spend share across all channels. In the thirty days prior, Trump, who was fairly quiet on digital before then, outspent Clinton on desktop and mobile by the same margins. This flip-flopping is representative of what has been a roller coaster of an election. 
 
With the race closer than ever, let's see how both candidates’ digital campaigns look hours prior to polling. Read on for a breakdown of how Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump are advertising across devices and don’t forget to vote tomorrow!

Hillary for America

It’s been a bumpy couple weeks for the Clinton campaign as more issues around her private email server made headlines. In the wake of another FBI investigation, Clinton prioritized video advertising, consuming 74% of her total digital spend over the last thirty days. YouTube was the biggest target for video creatives by far, with 94% of spend for the channel. The largest spike in spend and impressions on YouTube came on the same day her email server returned to the front page with video creatives featuring President Obama urging citizens to vote early. 64 unique video creatives in total were released by the Clinton campaign over the last thirty days, garnering an average of 3.8M impressions per day.
 
Source: Pathmatics Video Data. Hillary For America creative first seen on 10/28/16, last seen on 10/30/16. Top Sites: YouTube Homepage, FamilyFunPack YouTube Channel, and PewDiePie YouTube Channel.

 

On desktop, Clinton’s top site was the New York Times homepage, making a large push just before the final Presidential debate on October 8th, and again on October 19th. Politico slipped to be the second top site by spend for the Democratic candidate, followed by AOL. On October 29th, Hillary for America introduced seven new display creatives to also encourage early voting. The creatives, in both English and Spanish, featured Clinton and President Obama waving with the message: “Vote early for Hillary and Democrats.” This was the first instance we have seen the creative messaging include the political party.

 

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On November 3rd, Hillary for America introduced another six new desktop creatives and two days later on November 5th, her impressions reached 1.9X their 30 day average. These creatives also featured new messaging including the competing political party. The creatives read, “Stop Trump and Republicans,” whereas other creatives released by Clinton in the past simply say “Stop Trump.” This messaging change, just ten days prior to the general election, shows that the Clinton campaign is trying to remind voters that beyond the candidate, scandals, or headlines, this election boils down to Left vs. Right.

 

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Hillary For America Overview 

Campaign Digital Spend (10/8/16-11/6/16)
Desktop: $718,600
Mobile: $26,200
Video: $2,074,500
 
 

Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

After dropping $6.9M on desktop/display ads from September 8th to October 7th, Donald J. Trump for President’s spend dwindled down to $212K over the last thirty days. An absence of YouTube from his digital strategy was one of the main reasons for his spend to decrease so significantly. Of the near $7M he spent on desktop from September to October, 55% of that went to YouTube homepage takeovers. Another reason for the spend decrease could be Trump’s own skepticism of the effectiveness of digital advertising. The New York Times recently reported that, “Mr. Trump, who does not use a computer, rails against the campaign’s expenditure of tens of millions on digital ads, skeptical that spots he never sees could have any effect.” It has also been reported that his campaign is shifting digital dollars over to social, using "dark posts" on Facebook to target specific demographics.
 
Trump’s last large push on desktop was on October 10th, the day following the last Presidential debate, with creatives claiming that “Trump Won The Debate” encouraging citizens to “Join the Movement.” Since then, any display activity has fallen off completely with only $700 spent over the last week. October 14th was the last day that any mobile creatives were detected by the Republican candidate, and besides two video campaigns on October 10th and 12th, there has been little activity. AOL is still Donald J. Trump’s top site to target across devices, with 45% of Trump’s spend share on desktop, 20% on mobile (second to Wikia), and 59% share on video. It’s not surprising that AOL’s ad network, Advertising.com, is Trump’s top desktop and mobile partner while ONE by AOL (Vidible) is his top video partner. 
 
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Of the little desktop spend still being utilized by Trump, his new “Crooked Hillary” creatives released in October showcase bolder messaging towards his competitor. Past creatives for this campaign included messaging such as “Only Trump Can Stop Crooked Hillary” or “Hillary Clinton is a National Security Risk.” These new display creatives include bold white text with key words “Failed,” “Hillary,” and “Killing Jobs” in red to stand out. Other new creatives state “Value Your Second Amendment Rights? Hillary Doesn’t."

 

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While Trump’s anti-Hillary Clinton creatives are getting more aggressive, there is something missing from some of his other new creatives: Trump himself. Historically, we have seen Trump’s face grace nearly all of his digital creatives. If there is another person in the creative, he/she is usually in a split frame of the creative alongside Trump like this one:
 
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In a new campaign released throughout October, Trump is no where to be seen. One creative features a new mother, another features a man in a hard-hat, and another shows a teacher with a young student. These humanized creatives are clearly an attempt to appeal to a wider voting demographic, and like Clinton’s messaging, to take the attention off the candidate and promote the party platform.
 
 
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Donald J. Trump For President, Inc. Overview

Campaign Digital Spend (10/8/16-11/6/16)
Desktop: $212,900
Mobile: $5,500
Video: $50,000
 

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About Author

Jordan Kramer

An out-of-the-box thinker with a love for disruptive ideas, Jordan's background spans PR and events for the wedding & hospitality industry in Los Angeles and Scottsdale and also launching one of America's most unique food trucks. She jumped from the food start-up scene to the tech start-up scene in 2013 to join one of the most unique companies in ad tech. Jordan is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication.

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