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Trump’s Digital Game Begins, Clinton Campaign Among Most Digitally Sophisticated

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Campaigns have invested heavily in digital advertising in the 2016 cycle.

While Donald Trump has taken months to get his paid online advertising game going, he is finally spending donor money for the campaign.

For the first half of August, ending on the 14th, the Trump campaign and supporting Super PACs have bought digital ads on 112 sites, according to MediaRadar, just about as many as the Clinton camp, which has ads on 114 sites.

“Trump’s experience in the primaries led him to believe he could succeed with the same strategy of virtually no paid advertising,” said Todd Krizelman, co-founder and CEO of MediaRadar.

Maybe Trump himself has turned a corner.

This week has been particularly tame for him on the rhetorical front. Maybe it’s the influence of new hire Kellyanne Conway, who convinced him to start running a 21st-century campaign asap.

While he has evidently initiated online ad buys at a significantly quicker pace than in previous months, the sophistication in targeting and data analysis within his campaign isn’t there yet. Especially compared to the Clinton machine.

“Trump is buying much more digital advertising in August, but it is still very basic buys. The creatives are simple, with few variations. The Clinton camp is on par with the most sophisticated marketers out there, who iterate their creatives and plan targeted buys to defined demographics across the country on a daily basis,” explained Krizelman.

From March through mid-August, the Clinton apparatus has placed ads on 628 sites, with 31% of the buys placed through programmatic channels. Double Click and AOL are handling the majority of that business.

Conversely, Trump and his surrogates have placed advertising on 170 different sites, with 37% of the buys completed on programmatic platforms. The vast majority of those buys are also via Double Click and AOL.

Clinton’s campaign and supporting Super PACs advertise on a wide variation of sites. Placements include NBC and The New York Times, while also taking a local approach in some states, with buys on Metro Philly and Lancaster Online.

Trump digital buys skew heavily conservative and male. His campaign and supporting PACs have placed ads on RedState, National Review, Drudge Report, TechRax and Vanoss Gaming.