9 Investigates

Presidential candidates spending swings towards digital ads

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton aren't holding back when it comes to spending money a week away from Election Day.

In the past, candidates’ campaigns centered on yard signs, TV ads, direct mail and phone calls; now, much of the focus is on the new forms of media to target younger voters.

Julia Westendorf put up a Clinton sign in the yard of her Plaza Midwood home.

“I guess (the sign is) a statement of being proud of being for Hillary Clinton,” Westendorf said.

Political strategist Matt Canter said campaigns use signs to create enthusiasm for the loyalists but they don't relay a message.

“We have a saying, ‘Yard signs don’t vote,’” Canter said.

TV still reigns as king in political advertising. The Charlotte market has seen a record $60 million in 2016 TV political ads.

During the last election, candidates paid $36 million.

New forms of media are also seeing a windfall.

Trump has spent $238,000 on Facebook ads, $1.4 million on Twitter and $12 million on the IHeartRadio app.

Trump's total digital spending so far: $48 million.

Clinton has spent just $6 million on items listed as digital advertising and $5.5 million on direct mail, which is double what Trump has spent.

Campaign officials haven't completely given up on handouts.

Trump has spent $2.3 million for the "Make America Great Again" hats.

His autographed hat is a prized possession for Trump supporter Rion Choate.

“The red hat, from the beginning, has been a symbol Trump started and it has just caught on,” Choate said.

Trump spent $9 million total on merchandise and Clinton paid more than $1 million.

Clinton outspent Trump almost 3 to 1 on all forms of advertising. She's dished out $138 million on ads so far.

Trump is not only spending millions on digital platforms, he's also bought up $3,600 worth of web addresses that sound like they slander his name, which is 10 times the number owned by the Clintons.

Trump's domains include 16 ending in "scheme," or "fraud," For example, he owns trumpfraud.com.

The strategy prevents critics from using the web addresses for political attacks.