At the New York Times, "Measuring Donald Trump's Mammoth Advantage in Free Media":
Of all the ways Donald Trump has shocked the political system, one of the most significant is how he wins primary after primary with one of the smallest campaign budgets.More.
He still doesn’t have a super PAC. He skimped on ground organization and field offices. Most important, he spent less on television advertising — typically the single biggest expenditure for a campaign — than any other major candidate, according to an analysis by SMG Delta, a firm that tracks television advertising.
But Mr. Trump is hardly absent from the airwaves. Like all candidates, he benefits from what is known as earned media: news and commentary about his campaign on television, in newspapers and magazines, and on social media. Earned media typically dwarfs paid media in a campaign. The big difference between Mr. Trump and other candidates is that he is far better than any other candidate — maybe than any candidate ever — at earning media.
No one knows this better than mediaQuant, a firm that tracks media coverage of each candidate and computes a dollar value based on advertising rates. The mentions are weighted by the reach of the media source, meaning how many people were likely to see it. The calculation also includes traditional media of all types, print, broadcast or otherwise, as well as online-only sources like Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.
Its numbers are not quite an apples-to-apples comparison to paid advertising. But they do make one thing clear: Mr. Trump is not just a little better at earning media. He is way better than any of the other candidates.
Mr. Trump earned $400 million worth of free media last month, about what John McCain spent on his entire 2008 presidential campaign. Paul Senatori, mediaQuant’s chief analytics officer, says that Mr. Trump “has no weakness in any of the media segments” — in other words, he is strong in every type of earned media, from television to Twitter.
Over the course of the campaign, he has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, about twice the all-in price of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history...