Donald Trump has received plentiful media coverage in his presidential campaign – far more media coverage than any other candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign. The real estate mogul has more delegates than other Republican candidates while spending far less for paid advertising than most other presidential candidates.
According to a New York Times analysis of mediaQuant data, Trump received $400 million of earned media last month and almost $2 billion of media coverage over the entire campaign. Paul Senatori, mediaQuant’s chief analytics officer, told the Times that Trump is strong in all earned media categories.
The Problem with AVEs
However, the figures show the fallacy of advertising value equivalency (AVE). AVE attempts to value earned media by comparing it to advertising space. The problem is that much of Trump’s media coverage is negative. Media coverage is filled with stories of violence at Trump’s rallies and stories such has his latest disturbing retaliation against the press.
Hilary Clinton earned $746 million in earned media, the most after Trump, the Times notes. However, her mentions include coverage of Congress’s Benghazi hearings.
Senatori said negative media mentions receive “somewhat less weight” but doesn’t provide more details. “Its numbers are not quite an apples-to-apples comparison to paid advertising,” the Times concedes.
Measurement experts agree that AVE is a flawed metric for PR measurement.
Trump has spent $10 million in advertising. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spent the most, $82 million, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the second most at $55 million. Both Bush and Rubio have suspended their campaigns – their term for dropping out of the race. Trump has spent less on television advertising than any other major candidate, according to the Times.
Many observers believe Trump entered the campaign to enhance his business. It’s not clear if he has accomplished that objective. The media coverage has done wonders for his political campaign, but it may have undermined his business reputation.
Disapproving Poll Ratings
Despite his media coverage or maybe because of it, 60% of Americans view Trump unfavorably, according to Gallup. Much of that “unfavorable” rating resulted from negative impressions of him created during media coverage of his appearances. That “unfavorable” rating could well translate into “don’t want to do business with you.”
Trump’s unfavorable rating is higher than any nominated candidate from either of the two major parties going back to the 1992 election. Clinton has a 52% unfavorable rating, the second highest of current candidates. Nevertheless, Clinton has beaten Trump in 24 of the last 28 head-to-head national polls.
Even many conservatives disdain Trump. Some accuse the media of granting him outsize coverage in order to derail other conservative candidates. Conservative blogger Jim Geraghty at the National Review wonders if television producers and others grant him coverage because they believe “he confirms every negative stereotype of the conservative movement and Republican Party, that he’ll get demolished in a general election, and he’ll take a lot of Congressional Republicans down with him?”
Bottom Line: A report that states Donald Trump’s has obtained almost $2 billion in free coverage shows the error of AVEs. Although he has obtained extensive coverage, much of it is negative and in no way has an equivalent value with paid advertising that includes well-developed and fully-approved messaging.
This article was originally published on the CyberAlert blog.