1/3/12 UPDATE: Super PAC Endorse Liberty has spent more than half a million dollars solely on web advertising to back Ron Paul. According to ClickZ analysis of new spending reports, the pro-Paul group spent more than $396,000 on Google search ads between December 21 and January 2. In that time, nearly $113,000 went to Facebook advertising, $50,000 to online ads purchased through political consulting firm Campaign Grid, and around $6,000 to paid StumbleUpon placements. In all, Endorse Liberty has spent around $565,000 on online ads.
Original story: Super PAC money supporting and opposing GOP presidential hopefuls has yet to flow online in a major way, as some expected. However, pro-Ron Paul group Endorse Liberty is one independent expenditure group that is spending on web ads, and Google has received the lion’s share. Meanwhile, a pro-marriage group that has been accused of astroturfing to counteract marriage equality efforts, is running ads online opposing the Republican congressman from Texas.
Endorse Liberty, a group officially registered with the Federal Election Commission mere days ago, appears to be throwing its entire ad budget online. According to FEC reports, the organization spent more than $207,000 on Google search ads and Facebook ads between December 21 and December 28. Just over $3,250 of that pot went to Facebook, with the remainder going toward Google ads.
ClickZ Politics reported earlier this week that Endorse Liberty was targeting ads to Iowa Republicans on Facebook. The intent of the campaign is not only to persuade Iowa Caucus voters to support Paul, but to educate them on the best way to back his candidacy in other states.
"Watch this video to see why so many people believe Ron Paul will be one of the greatest Presidents in American history," noted an ad seen by conservative and Republican voters in Iowa on Facebook this week.
The ad linked to a lengthy 12-minute video on YouTube featuring a clickable button that allows people to post a message in support of Paul on their Facebook pages. An "Endorse Ron Paul" button displayed at the end of the video enables a video share on Facebook. The video has been viewed around 33,000 times since it was posted December 21, two days after Endorse Liberty filed with the FEC.
Endorse Liberty has also spent a meager amount - less than $50 - on paid StumbleUpon placements in recent days.
Iowa for Ron Paul 2012, another pro-Paul organization unaffiliated with the campaign, is running ads targeting Iowa Republicans on Facebook today, encouraging them to "help promote the Champion of the Constitution!"
Paul has his opposition, of course, and National Organization for Marriage is part of it. The group fights marriage equality laws, and argues Paul is the only "major" presidential candidate who has not "pledged to preserve traditional marriage." This week, the group paid Republican digital agency Connell Donatelli $15,000 for online ads opposing Paul, according to the FEC. Connell Donatelli has been handling web ads for Michele Bachmann's campaign.
Most likely, the NOM web ads drove people to WrongOnMarriage.com, a site the anti-gay marriage group paid $8,000 to communications and social media agency Opusfidelis to build. The microsite features a TV spot claiming that "Paul has said 'sure' to gay marriage" and "even called for abolishing marriage all together."
While Endorse Liberty's campaign spending is web-centric, NOM's budget allocations seem more aligned with most PACs this primary season, which have spent heavily on television ads and given digital media short shrift. According to the FEC, NOM spent more than twice its Facebook ad expenditure on TV spots - around $35,000.
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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