IX Perspectives

Here Comes The Campaign Video Spend

Behind the scenes of a Trump interview

In the early primary season, very few campaigns bought video inventory in the Index Exchange market.

When you consider that each campaign spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a week on television (and sometimes millions), it seems like a missed opportunity that most have avoided buying digital video online. Creatively, the units are relatively simple to repurpose, and a targeted digital video buy on a select number of premium sites is a small price to pay if it delivers more impact than an oft-DVR’ed and likely more expensive TV spot.

Granted, it’s still early in the media race – we are three months from knowing who will represent each party and though front-runners exist, the laggards are seemingly still fighting tooth and nail. The only campaigns that bought video inventory through Index Exchange in April’s first half were Cruz and Sanders.

Though it’s been slow-going, video spend from the campaigns has trickled in. We think it will only continue to rise as we have candidates selected for the General Election in November, and if the months leading up to the conventions suggest it will be contested, expect to see the laggards continue to attempt to woo Americans with sight, sound, and motion messages online.

Which Campaigns Are Buying Video and How Their Buys Compare

The chart below represents each campaign’s share of total video spend among Index Exchange spending front-runners (i.e., Clinton, Cruz, Kasich, and Sanders) from April 1 – April 15 2016. Note the only two front runners who bought video during this time period are Sanders and Cruz.

Total campaign video spend April 1 - 15, 2016
Total campaign video spend April 1 – 15, 2016
Source: Index Exchange Global Marketplace Data (Q2 2016)


Price-wise, Sanders’ video inventory has been a bit posher, with average CPMs during the first half of April at $15.96. Cruz’s were average $11.05.

Campaign Spend and Impression Volume in April’s First Half

The graph below shows relative spend and relative impressions purchased through the first half of April. In this graph, you’ll see that Sanders spent most of all other candidates, so his total spend is set at 100. The other campaign spend is shown relative to Sanders’ – for example, Clinton spent 41% of Sanders’ total and Cruz spent 20%. Also shown are the total number of impressions bought by campaigns. Clinton bought the most impressions of all campaigns. The low ratio of spend to impression signifies that Clinton is buying cheaper, lower-quality inventory, and buying a lot of it. This is a tactic we’ve seen her embrace since we began covering the programmatic election.

campaign spend and campaign impressions from April 1 - 15, 2016
campaign spend and campaign impressions from April 1 – 15, 2016
Source: Index Exchange Global Marketplace Data (Q2 2016)

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