Obama and Clinton Led Display Ad Drop in March

  |  April 17, 2008   |  Comments

When it came to online display ads in March, Obama went local, Clinton had her hand out, and McCain got a basketball jones.

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgWhen it came to online ads in March, Obama went local, Clinton had her hand out, and McCain got a basketball jones. Last month also marked what appears to be the first time Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign ran millions of display ads on the Web.

As in recent months, Obama for America dominated online display advertising placed by the three top presidential campaigns. According to Nielsen Online AdRelevance, his camp ran around 30 million impressions across the Web, many served through ad networks. Though a steady online advertiser for more than a year, John McCain 2008 placed far fewer impressions in March than in previous months, about 4.7 million. Still, the ad research firm tracked only about 2 million McCain display ad impressions in February.

After months of neglecting online display, Clinton's campaign came out swinging with a campaign aimed purely at fundraising in March. Ads urging viewers to make history by contributing to the Senator's campaign were seen on prominent news sites including CNN, AOL News, Slate and The New York Times, according to AdRelevance, which tracked about 10.6 million Clinton ad impressions. In February, some ads promoting a Clinton TV event on the Hallmark Channel, along with fundraising ads targeted to Wisconsin primary voters, also were found.

Clinton's campaign stuck with only a handful of display ad creatives in March, which included the same basic message: "Help Make History. Support Hillary Clinton Today! Contribute $50 Now." The ad blitz coincided with e-mails signed by Bill Clinton; they pleaded, "Can you help put Hillary in the position to win Pennsylvania with your contribution today?"

While Clinton's online ad mission in March centered on drumming up campaign contributions to fuel primary state advertising, Obama focused in part on gathering early votes in Texas and Ohio, which held their primaries March 4.The campaign placed a variety of new ads targeting voters in those two states in addition to running a wide variety of ad creatives aimed at gathering supporter e-mail addresses.

Mimicking messages in a collection of video-enabled expandable ads placed by Obama's camp on local newspaper and TV station sites, standard display units reminded voters about the "Texas Two-Step" voting process. "Even if you voted early, you still need to caucus on Tuesday at 7:00pm," read Texas-targeted ads. Ads aimed at Buckeye voters told them when polls would open and close.

The majority of Obama's ads showed up on Politico and Merriam-Webster Online, according to AdRelevance; the dictionary site and others appearing on the research firm's list suggest many of the campaign's standard display ads were targeted demographically, behaviorally or geographically. Ads were also found on local sites including Austin's Statesman.com, Toledoblade.com, Boston.com, NorthJersey.com, and Connecticut's TheDay.com.

The Obama campaign followed through with its localized display advertising in April. Earlier this week it launched issue-based ads portraying the Illinois Senator as a leader on fuel efficiency on Pennsylvania newspaper and television sites.

Like Obama's campaign, the majority of ad impressions run by the McCain camp featured ad creative introduced months ago. Most ads presented the Senator as experienced, trustworthy and courageous. And like Obama's ads, most were intended to glean contact information from supporters to drive volunteerism and donations. The McCain campaign also continued to pick on Clinton. Silly ads reminded people of her Woodstock museum funding proposal, for instance.

Harkening back to an unexpected effort last March, McCain's campaign ran a relatively small number of ads promoting a college basketball related contest. "Bracket Busted? Need a Second Chance? Create a New Bracket in the Second Chance Challenge," read the ads. Like others centered on pork-barrel spending, the ads barely mentioned the candidate. During last year's NCAA basketball playoffs, McCain's campaign site listed his bracket bets and urged supporters to register their team picks to win campaign gear.

McCain's ads appeared mainly on sites including local news aggregator site Topix, conservative news sites National Review Online and Lucianne.com, Merriam-Webster Online, and weather site Intellicast. Local sites included Staten Island's SILive and PittsburghLive.

2008 Ads by
Hillary Clinton for President
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Help Make History Support Hillary Clinton Today!" "Contribute $50 Now" 336x280 Large Rectangle 10,675,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

Ad below provided by online ad tracking firm The Media Trust Company.

March 2008 Ads by
John McCain 2008
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"One man has the experience One man has the courage One man has our trust John McCain for President." "Join Our Team" 728x90 Leaderboard, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle 3,050,000
"Courageous Service. Experienced Leadership. Bold Solutions. Watch Courageous Service Video. "Play Video" n/a 275,000
"Who do you trust to protect America? John McCain for President" "Join the Team" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 468x60 Full Banner 330,000
"Three million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that's a paternity issue or a criminal issue." "Stop Pork Barrel Spending. Sign the Petition." 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 445,000
"Is This The Future You Want? Make Sure It Doesn't Happen!" "Click Here" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 155,000
"McCain Beats Clinton. Read All About It" "Click Here" 728x90 Leaderboard 60,000
"1 million for a Woodstock Museum? not so groovy man" "Watch Video" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 70,000
"$74 million tax dollars for peanut storage costs? That's Nuts! Outraged by Pork?" "Sign the Petition" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 10,000
"McCain Experience Money Can't Buy. Elect John McCain" "Click Here" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 728x90 Leaderboard 40,000
"Bracket Busted? Need a Second Chance? Create a New Bracket in the Second Chance Challenge. McCain." "Click Here" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, non-standard dimensions 40,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

March 2008 Ads by
Obama for America
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Change We Can Believe In. Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States. Visit the official campaign website" "Join Us" 180x150 Rectangle, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle, 728x90 Leaderboard 7,725,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website." "Join Us" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 728x90 Leaderboard, 336x280 Large Rectangle 7,810,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website. Sign up for invitations to campaign events." "Join Us" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 7,460,000
"Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website." "Join Us" 728x90 Leaderboard 2,790,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Texas Two Step. Vote and Caucus for Barack Obama on Tuesday. Polling Places are open on Tuesday 7:00am-7:00pm. Even if you voted early, you still need to caucus on Tuesday at 7:00pm." "Find Out Where" 728x90 Leaderboard, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 120x600 Skyscraper, 468x60 Full Banner 1,920,000
"Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States. Visit the official campaign website" "Join Us" 728x90 Leaderboard 1,105,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Texas Two Step. Vote and Caucus for Barack Obama. Even if you voted early, you still need to caucus on Tuesday at 7:00pm." "Find Out Where" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 180x150 Rectangle 1,110,000
"Sign Up for Invitations to Campaign Events" "Join Us" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 610,000
"Meet Barack Obama. Attend a Campaign Event Near You." "Join Us" 120x600 Skyscraper, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 260,000
"Meet Barack Obama. Sign Up for Invitations to Campaign Events" "Join Us" 120x600 Skyscraper 100,000
"Vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday 6:30AM-7:30PM. Confirm Your Polling PLace Now." "Go" [BarackObama.com/Ohio] 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 115,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Vote Now for Barack Obama. Have you tried the ease and convenience of early voting? Find Your Early-Vote Location." "Go" [BarackObama.com/Ohio] 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 20,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Register Now to Vote for Barack Obama. MOVED? Update your voter registration by March 24. To vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Primary you must be registered as a Democrat by March 24." "Launch Video" and "Register by Mail" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 728x90 Leaderboard 25,000
"Please Vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday. Many polling places have moved. Find your (new) polling place now." "Rhode Island Click on Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 8,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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