An online ad trend is emerging for the Obama reelection campaign. President Barack Obama's campaign yet again has bought out the homepage of the top newspaper site in conjunction with a GOP primary - this time for today’s New Hampshire primary. In an effort to steer the national conversation in the midst of the Republican battle, Obama 2012 ads dominate the UnionLeader.com homepage, in the very spots Mitt Romney's campaign ads were placed yesterday.
"They're fighting for big corporations and millionaires. Only Barack Obama is fighting for the middle class," reads one ad, showing the main Republican candidates. A banner ad at the top of the page quips, "New Hampshire Primary Results: The Tea Party Agenda Wins!" The ads link to a sign up page to join Obama's New Hampshire campaign team, but the prominent placement of the ads - which can be seen by anyone across the nation - suggests the campaign aims to garner earned media coverage from the ads (in addition to sign ups from potential donors and volunteers).
If the Obama campaign's buyouts of the DesMoinesRegister.com homepage the day of the Iowa Caucuses last week and today's UnionLeader home ad takeover are any indication, expect the same approach to be evident on key news sites on primary days as the GOP nomination race continues.
This is a first for a presidential incumbent reelection campaign, and indicates pre-planning months ahead of time on the part of Obama's online ad team. Both the Democratic National Committee and Obama for America use Bully Pulpit Interactive - a firm led by three members of the Obama 2008 online ad team - to handle their online advertising. The digital agency has already reaped millions of dollars from the DNC and Obama camps this election cycle.
Yesterday, ads from the GOP primary frontrunner Mitt Romney filled the same ad slots on the UnionLeader.com homepage, and were seen elsewhere on the site as well as on NashuaTelegraph.com, another New Hampshire newspaper site.
One ad reminded voters that Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Arizona Senator John McCain, a Romney rival in the 2008 GOP primary race, support Romney this time around. McCain won the state's primary in 2008.
It's unclear whether the absence of Romney ads on the site today is strategic on the part of the Romney campaign - a recognition that many undecided voters had made up their minds by yesterday - or fallout from the Obama ad buy.
Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are also running ads on the New Hampshire paper site. Santorum's campaign is pushing his moneybomb fundraiser, set to end tomorrow. Ron Paul's campaign is going negative, extending the "Serial Hypocrite" message he's been using against Newt Gingrich. Video-enabled display ads feature a TV spot that slaps the same label on Santorum, in the hopes of siphoning votes away from the former Pennsylvania Senator, who came in a close second in the Iowa Caucuses last week.
National Organization for Marriage is also running ads on the site suggesting, "Ron Paul would do nothing if the Supreme Court imposed gay marriage." The ads link to WrongOnMarriage.com, a microsite featuring a TV spot claiming that "Paul has said 'sure' to gay marriage" and "even called for abolishing marriage all together." According to Federal Election Commission filings, the anti-same sex marriage group has spent $40,000 on online ads opposing Ron Paul since late December.
Self proclaimed Democratic Super PAC AmericanLP is also advertising on UnionLeader.com, pushing people to a site featuring videos that paint Romney as an out-of-touch rich guy and compare him to a plastic Ken Doll.
One candidate whose campaign hinges on today's New Hampshire primary, Jon Huntsman, appears to have no ads running on the site, a news outlet of record for the first-in-the-nation primary. However Huntsman is running Google search ads, and like others, may be running display and online video ads not visible to people outside the state.
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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.