As the GOP presidential contenders slog their way through a prolonged primary season, President Barack Obama's reelection campaign continues to spend big on digital ads. Obama for America spent an additional $3 million on digital ads, including text messages, in February. Since the launch of the 2012 campaign about a year ago, Obama's team has spent more than $11 million on web ads, according to ClickZ Politics analysis of Federal Election Commission filings.
Obama for America spent the same amount of money on web ads last month - around $3 million - a possible sign of a monthly spending trend. If the campaign continues spending around $3 million on digital advertising monthly going forward, it would be on pace to spend $35 million by November.
That $35 million could be a conservative estimate considering OFA is likely to boost its ad spending overall during the general election. Obama campaign insiders say OFA spent around $20 million on online ads in 2008, higher than ClickZ's $16 million tally.
The Democratic National Committee, which spent $2 million on digital advertising so far, does not appear to have bought any digital ads in February. Together, the Obama camp and the DNC have spent around $13 million on digital advertising.
At this stage, the President's campaign has the luxury of an extended Republican primary season, enabling the use of online ads mainly to build his supporter list and gather donations, rather than to convince voters to back him.
It appears that direct mail served the same purpose for the campaign, which spent around $3 million in February on postage and printing, most likely for direct mail fundraising. A fraction of that - a few hundred thousand dollars - appears to have gone towards TV ads last month, also indicating the campaign's current focus on fundraising and list building as opposed to persuading voters.
However, the Obama camp has begun a shift towards more persuasive advertising online in recent months. In February, his campaign continued a splashy series of ad takeovers on homepages of local news sites on or around primary day. As the February 28 Michigan primary approached, the campaign steered its job growth message to auto workers through ads on Detroit news sites about the auto industry recovery.
The bulk of OFA's online ad spending went through Bully Pulpit Interactive, as has been the case from the start. A $50,000 web ad expenditure was made to The Audience, Inc., and another $22,000 was spent on text messaging with Mobile Commons. Obama's campaign spent $11.16 million on online and mobile advertising through February.
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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.
March 19, 2014