UPDATE: This story originally reported that the the Obama Victory Fund has yet to report any digital ad or other expenditures this cycle. That is incorrect. According to ClickZ analysis of FEC filings, the Obama Victory Fund spent $950,000 on digital ads through Bully Pulpit Interactive through the end of July, bringing the total spent on digital ads by the Obama campaign, the DNC and Obama Victory Fund to $39.7 million through July.
Mitt Romney's real plan for America is to create "tax cuts for millionaires." The Romney-Ryan ticket is "wrong for the middle class," and they "want to take away a woman's right to choose." These are all messages seen in a recent crop of negative online display ads from The Obama Victory Fund.
The fund is a joint fundraising committee. However, while Romney Victory - the combined effort of the Romney campaign and Republican National Committee - has spent more than $7 million on digital advertising so far, the Obama Victory Fund has yet to report any spending at all this cycle on digital ads or anything else for that matter.
Joint fundraising committees "collect contributions...and divide the money among the committees listed as participants," said Bob Biersack, senior fellow at the Center for Responsive Politics who once worked at the Federal Election Commission.
The Obama Victory Fund ads appear to have started running online in August, which could be why expenditures associated with the ads have yet to show up in the fund's FEC reports. The fact that the two joint committees are running ads at all is "unusual," suggested Biersack. Usually the joint committees disperse money to participant organizations that then use it to run ad campaigns.
Romney and GOP Narrow Digital Ad Spending Gap
According to ClickZ's ongoing analysis of 2012 presidential campaign FEC filings, the Barack Obama camp spent $5.5 million on online and mobile advertising in July, bringing the total spent since launch last spring to $36.7 million. Most of that digital ad money is flowing through Washington, D.C.-based Bully Pulpit Interactive. Along with the $2 million spent on digital ads by the Democratic National Committee this cycle, the total is just shy of $40 million.
All along Romney and the RNC have spent far less on digital advertising than their Democratic counterparts. However, Romney Victory finally started filling the gap in May and June when it spent $7.2 million on digital ads according to ClickZ analysis. That's almost as much as the $10 million the Romney campaign has spent throughout the entire primary and general election season. Thus far the RNC has spent only around $284,000 on digital ads, including $31,000 on Twitter ads. All three organizations use Targeted Victory to handle online ad buys.
In all, the disparity remains cavernous with the Democratic side having spent more than twice as much on digital ads as the $17.4 million the Republican side has dropped in the presidential race.
The new Obama Victory Fund ads indicate the group is tasked with slinging mud at Romney and Paul Ryan. It's not all about persuading voters that they're the wrong men for the job, though. The Obama Victory Fund has also begun running display ads that coax people to give their email addresses by signing a virtual card wishing "Barack & Michelle a Happy 20th Anniversary." Many of the ads from the Obama camp itself take a similar tack, encouraging people to sign up for a chance to win a dinner with the President or asking them to sign various virtual greetings.
Most likely, the Obama camp is aiming those signup ads to people in blue states or to people who have already visited the campaign site, indicating they are supporters. The anti-Romney ads from Obama Victory Fund, on the other hand, are probably targeted to people in swing states and aimed at key constituencies such as women or Hispanics based on demographic or other information.
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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