Head to Head: Trump vs Biden's Digital Strategy

*From the archives - this was an article we originally published as a Twitter threat during the 2020 election. We are republishing the article here as it is still a very interesting read!*

Curious about how Trump's digital strategy compares and contrasts to Biden's? We did a quick analysis of each campaign's ad strategy, website messaging, marketing tech stack and more.

To start, a homepage popup comparison is very good indicator of each candidate's core campaign messaging. Trump chose to stoke fear of the radical left, while Joe put his running mate Kamala front-and-center at every possible junction. Trump uses lots of all-caps, brash and unapologetic, while Biden comes across as calm cool and collected.

This is more of a novelty that is less relevant to their overall digital strategy, but we stumbled upon their 404 pages and saw their campaign messaging continue even there. +1 to Biden for soliciting a donation even on his 404 page!

Taking a look at each candidate's marketing tech stack...

Biden has ad pixels for Snap and Twitter on his site (top image). Both of these pixels are noticeably missing from Trump's site (right) as they skew young and extremely liberal. He makes up the gap with Display ads (Rubicon, AppNexus, Trade Desk, etc). Older audiences are much more likely to click on display ads than younger.

Facebook ads strategy: both candidates, despite spending millions, have shockingly simple and similar ad strategies that can be divided into 2 buckets.

Let's look at type 1 first: Simple direct-response ads soliciting donations and targeting broad nationwide lookalike audiences. In type 1, Biden (top) and Trump (bottom) both have the exact same style in all of their direct-response ads driving donations. They use simple graphics to convey urgency. They don't need to win you over with talking points. If you're willing to donate, that ship has already sailed.

Type 1 audience targeting is the same with team Trump and team Biden. They use simple campaign budget optimization (CBO) and let Facebook's algorithm optimize their spend across all 50 states. It's interesting that Facebook is finding cheap conversions in Georgia for Trump (top) despite Biden leading in the polls in that state 🤔.

Biden's budget allocation for ad type 1
Trump's budget allocation for ad type 1

Ad type #2: each candidate is optimizing for unique reach, page views, and video views, targeting ONLY 4-5 swing states. These ads want to GET OUT THE VOTE. They're simply digital billboards. Biden chooses to drive to mainstream meda articles (top). Trump knows his audience - not exactly the literary type - and opts for short videos (bottom).

Ad type 2 targeting, across both campaigns, hits the major swing states HARD and that's pretty much it. Biden (top) is only targeting 5 states. Trump (bottom) is only targeting 4. You can see how much they value Pennsylvania! BTW, our source on all of this is the Facebook Ad Library, which shows helpful budget breakdowns and UTM parameters on ads which indicate their bid methods, targeting, etc.

Looking at their donation paid landing pages, +1 for Trump for driving to an email/SMS lead form before sending you to the payment page. This allows him to build a retargeting audience who he can hit with emails or texts even if they don't convert directly off of the ad. Capture your top-of-funnel and convert them to leads at every possible juncture!

That being said, Trump's payment page is BAD. like, 1998 porn site bad. Flashing, bouncing multicolored buttons that take advantage of an older voting base, and a sketchy "700% matching" pledge (matched by who?). +1 Biden.

Wait, it gets worse: at the bottom of the page is a DOUBLE OPT-OUT asking you to set up recurring donations and donate an additional $50. In marketing, having ONE opt-out message for something innocuous like an email list is cringe-worthy. TWO double opt-outs is...unheard of in marketing, and likely illegal.

All that being said, one look at Joe's donation landing page tells me that Trump's has a higher conversion rate. It's clean, it's on-brand, but it's...meh. Notice Kamala is front and center yet again. Biden is leaning on the strength of his VP. Trump is a cult of personality.

That's it! Both candidate's personalities come through clearly in their digital content. It's also interesting as a marketer to see how many e-commerce tricks have found their way into political advertising. Digital strategy will only become more and more important in future elections.

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