His first television ad, released Monday, is the latest example of this.
The Trump campaign spent about $1,883,839 for the ad to run in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to a Republican media buyer, but it was also covered by the media. News stations played all or part of the ad without Trump having to pay for it.
According to iQ, a media monitoring service, “Donald Trump” and “ad” were mentioned about 6,300 times from Monday until Tuesday 10 a.m. EST on national and local television. The total audience was 152.6 million viewers.
The service also tracks how much that television time would cost, and for Trump, it would come out to $2,483,740.
That means for every dollar Trump spent to air the ad, he received an extra $1.32 in media coverage.The ad provided plenty for the media to report on.
When the narrator talked about building a wall on the Mexican border, it actually showed footage of a wall in Morocco. It repeated some of Trump's most controversial proposals, like temporarily barring Muslims from entering the country.
Not to mention, it was the first television ad released by the Trump campaign, and it came out just 28 days before the Iowa caucuses.
Trump manages to run such a cost-effective campaign because in lieu of paying for ads, he gets on television, newspapers, radio, and online for free by saying things that are newsworthy and interesting to readers and viewers.
And when he finally decides to spend money, his dollars just go that much further.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of mentions of Trump's ad on television from Monday to Tuesday at 10 a.m. This article was also updated to clarify the value of earned media, and to update the headline.