IX Perspectives

Hillary Bests Trump In Convention Month, Reps Spend More Overall

Hilary Clinton at podium

Yesterday, we profiled election-related spending in Index Exchange by the Republican Party and Trump, confirmed presidential nominee, during the uber-important month of July. Today, we’re looking at what the Democrats were up to during the convention month.

The Democratic Party’s Favorite Units

Democratic party's top five ad units, by spend (July 2016)
Democratic party’s top five ad units, by spend (July 2016)

This graph depicts the five units on which the Democratic Party (a combination of Pro-Hillary Super PACs, PACs, the Democratic National Committee, and Hillary herself) spent the most in July. As you can see, much like the Republicans, the unit the Democrats bought most of was the relatively easy-to-come-by 300×250, a medium rectangle often placed in the right rail of a page. In addition to securing the most impressions for this unit, the party budgeted most spend here.

The highest CPM in the mix went to video, which is the norm exchange-wide. The second most expensive unit bought was the 320×50 spot for mobile web – mobile prices are typically higher than desktop displays. The video inventory secured with the impressions was nearly eight dollars higher than the average for that mobile web unit.

Hillary’s Biggest Programmatic Days Also Biggest Political Days

So what was the Clinton campaign up to in the month of July? Spending a lot more than Trump, that’s what. “Hillary for America” spend 77% more than Trump during convention month. Overall, the campaign secured 3.35x more impressions and her average CPMs topped Trump’s by 67%.

Below are graphs depicting Hillary’s spend, impression volume, and average CPMs during the month of July.

'Hilary for America' campaign activity, relatively indexed (July 2016)
‘Hilary for America’ campaign activity, relatively indexed (July 2016)

There’s a lot going on in this graph – but what I find most interesting is how to spend, impressions, and average clear prices reach a fever pitch from July 26 – July 28, right in time for the Democratic National Convention (held from July 25-28). As opposed to Trump, who spent more after the Republican Convention, Hillary’s campaign used this time to build on the hoopla and messaging surrounding her convention and reach users.

'Hilary for America' campaign activity spend, relatively indexed (July 2016)
‘Hilary for America’ campaign activity spend, relatively indexed (July 2016)

This graph just shows Hillary’s July spend. Notice that the day with the most spend is July 27 – the Tuesday during the four-day event. Spend is the most volatile of the categories we look at – the range was much wider than the range for impressions and average clear price.

'Hilary for America' campaign activity, relatively indexed (July 2016) impressions won
‘Hilary for America’ campaign activity, relatively indexed (July 2016) impressions won

Much like spend, impression volume is most concentrated during the convention period. This is when Hillary ads were blanketing the web – the strongest day for impression volume was Monday, July 26.

'Hilary for America' campaign activity, relatively indexed (july 2016)
‘Hilary for America’ campaign activity, relatively indexed (July 2016)

And finally, the average CPMs for the month. The day with the highest average clear price was the last day of the convention – Thursday, July 28. The uptick in CPM could be due to a few things – she could have bought some video or perhaps she was targeting users who interacted with the ads she fired off in the early days of the convention.

The Elephant Versus The Donkey: Exchange Activity in July

share of spend and impressions, by political party (july 2016)
share of spend and impressions, by political party (july 2016)

The Republican Party spent 14% more than the Democratic Party in July. However, the Republicans bought a mere half of the impressions than the competition. This signifies the Republicans bought higher-quality inventory, overall, and paid a higher clear price on average than the Democrats: Republican average clear price for the month was 2.47x higher than the Democrat’s.

Where did all of this spend go? Well, in two of the four common popular units for the parties, the 300×250 and the 160×600, Republicans spent more. Democrats bought a lot more mobile web, spent 16% more overall on total video and 51% more on the high-impact 728×90. (See graph below for share of the total, combined spend on these units).

share of spend by political party on top units (July 2016)
share of spend by a political party on top units (July 2016)

Share of impression volume was a totally different story. Between the two parties, Democrats bought the lion’s share of the impressions: most notably, nearly 70% of the impressions for video and a whopping 84% of the 728×90 (see below).

Share of Impressions

So, if Republicans spent more overall, how did the Democrats dominate impression share? Average CPMs, of course (below).

Indexed average clear price on top units, by political party (July 2016)
Indexed average clear price on top units, by political party (July 2016)

On each of these four common popular units, Republican clear prices won. Republican average video clear prices were a full $7.27 above those for Democrats and 728×90 clear prices beat the Democrat’s by $2.22. And remember, overall average clear prices for the Republican’s exchange-wide were 2.47x higher than the Democrat’s.

The reasons for such a difference in price are simple. Republicans may have used more targeting in their ad buys which can drive a price up. Also, the party could have relied more on private marketplaces targeting niche communities that have scarce supply. It’s not a heavier reliance on video – the Democrats bought more of it. However, the video spots secured by the Republicans were a lot more expensive, which definitely helped boost the party’s overall spend.

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