Who's Leading the 2016 US Presidential Election in Paid Search Advertising

Today is an Election Day in the U.S. and a good time to look at Paid Search advertising for the 2016 presidential race.

To assess the field, we examined U.S. Google Desktop Text Ad activity on 59 keywords related to the various presidential candidates and the race from October 1-31, 2015.

Ben Carson Leading in Clicks

Presidential Election 2016 top clicks Oct 2015.JPG v.2

BenCarson.com was the leader in clicks during October, with a 12.24% click share. LFDA.org was second with an 11.64% click share, followed by TedCruz.org (11.11%), HillaryClinton.com (9.87%) and the Media Research Center’s TellTheTruth2016.org (6.66%), whose objective is to “stop the liberal media from rigging the 2015 elections”.

Trump Silent in Paid Search

Although Donald Trump himself is an outspoken candidate, the Trump campaign site DonaldJTrump.com does not appear to be part of the conversation in Paid Search.

Trump's site spent no money on the 59 keywords studied, including the candidate’s own name 'donald trump'. What's more, we could not find any spend for DonaldJTrump.com on any keywords in the AdGooroo database, suggesting the candidate is not currently utilizing Paid Search advertising. (Given Trump’s well-documented proclivity for social media, it's possible that the campaign does not feel it’s necessary to pay to connect with voters online.)

So then who sponsored terms like ‘donald trump’ and 'trump'  in October? Twenty-seven different advertisers, consisting mostly of non-profits and political advocacy groups such as LFDA.org, FirstThings.com, ActOn.org, FlackCheck.org and TellTheTruth2016.org.

What They Are Saying in Their Ads

The majority of ads we found on the 59 keywords in October contain what one would expect, including official promotions from the candidates’ campaigns, and various pro and con stances on the candidates:

Presidential Election Ad Creative Sample

However, we also found AOL’s When.com taking more of a 'human interest' approach by appealing to voters’ curiosity about the candidates’ personal lives:

Presidential Election When.com Creative

Note: The results of this study have been updated since its publication on November 3, 2015. Additionally, the results of this study are limited to the 59 keywords examined. Advertisers may be sponsoring additional keywords that, if measured, would alter the findings of this report. 

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