Kantar Media's AdGooroo has been analysing search clicks to Hillary Clinton's official website versus Donald Trump's site. We've compared organic search clicks, which are generated when search engine users click on the natural results on a search engine results page, with paid search ads.
From June 2015 through July 2016, Clinton’s official site, hillaryclinton.com, generated 10.3 million paid search clicks and an additional 10.1 million organic clicks, so a total of 20.4 million during the period. While Trump’s official site, donaldjtrump.com, generated just 7,400 paid search clicks from June 2015 through July 2016, but garnered 62.6 million organic search clicks during the period - almost three times as many organic clicks as the Clinton site’s paid and organic clicks combined and the equivalent value of around $10.2 million in paid search advertising, according to AdGooroo estimates.
Much has been written about the disparity in TV advertising between the presidential candidates, and this research has found a similar phenomenon in paid search advertising.
According to an AdGooroo examination of US Google desktop text ads, the Trump campaign only started advertising in paid search in July, when it spent around $18,000 on paid search ads to drive contributions at the candidate’s donation-focused site: secure.donaldjtrump.com.
Prior to July, there was almost no paid search activity coming from an official Trump site. The candidate’s main site, donaldjtrump.com - which offers his positions on issues as well as media content, a newsletter sign-up and a link to donate - spent less than $750 on paid search advertising from June 2015, the month Trump announced his candidacy, through July 2016. For comparison, AdGooroo data shows Hillary Clinton’s official campaign site, hillaryclinton.com, spent just over $1 million on paid search advertising during this same time period.
Of course, the numbers alone may not tell the whole story. The fact that Trump started using a paid search campaign in July to drive traffic to a purely donation-focused site, secure.donaldjtrump.com, may signal that the tens of millions of visitors to the candidate’s main site, donaldjtrump.com, may be not be donating at a high enough rate, or at all. Without insight into conversion data for either candidate’s site visitors, however, it’s only possible to speculate on such matters.
Given that Trump spent virtually no money over the previous 13 months and drove nearly three times as many site visitors as Clinton’s $1 million investment, it may be safer to conclude that paid search simply is not an essential tool for his campaign.