Online ad spending by Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee reached more than $7 million in 2011. From March through December, OFA alone bought more than $5 million worth of online ads, according to Federal Election Commission reports analyzed by ClickZ Politics.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's reelection camp only recently began running television spots, reportedly making a relatively small national buy aimed at building his supporter list, and later pushing an economy and energy policy themed message to battleground states.
While Republican primary candidates have duked it out on television with ads hitting voters in primary and caucus states, OFA focused its 2011 advertising mainly on generating signups and donations. Online ads are especially conducive to collecting email addresses and donations, and many of the reelection campaign's ads spotted last year online served that purpose. A variety of display ads asked people to join the campaign, visit the official website, or sign a digital card wishing the Obama family luck in 2012.
The 2011 TV ads also reflected that approach, and featured the president encouraging people to call or visit the official site to join his reelection campaign.
OFA reported that it collected donations from over 1.3 million people, with 583,000 donors giving in Q4. It can be assumed that many of those donors gave after clicking through from an online ad.
The campaign appears to be shifting gears in the new year to use digital ads to sway voters. A series of ads seen on the homepages of news sites in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida on or around the caucus and primaries there attacked Republicans or touted job growth under the president's administration. A more recent television effort from OFA in January attempted to persuade voters on Obama's clean energy policy and related job growth.
Online ad spending by OFA rose around 75 percent from $2.9 million through the third quarter to $5.07 million by the end of the year. OFA also spent about $93,500 with Mobile Commons on text messages in 2011 and around $672,000 with Blue State Digital for technology consulting and website related work.
DNC spending on online ads rose around $86,000 since the end of the third quarter, totalling $1.99 million for 2011. It is not clear whether all DNC online ad spending last year was entirely for Obama or in part in support of other Democratic candidates.
Both the DNC and OFA use Bully Pulpit Interactive to purchase their online ads. A small portion of the DNC's online ads also went through consulting firm GMMB in the last quarter.
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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.
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