Online Political Spending to Hit $159 Million in 2012

With all eyes on the presidential campaigns, a new Borrell Associates report reminds observers that 2012 political ad spending encompasses thousands of local and state campaigns, too. The local media research firm forecasts that $159.2 million will be spent on digital ads and email this election cycle. That’s a mere 1.5 percent share of the total $9.8 billion expected to flow from campaigns, parties, and Super PACs towards TV, telemarketing, direct mail, and other media.

Borrell’s 2012 Political Advertising Outlook report showed just $1.62 billion, or 16.5 percent, of total projected 2012 ad spending will come from presidential campaigns themselves.

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By the end of January, original research from ClickZ Politics showed President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee together spent $10 million on online advertising, not including email, during the 2012 cycle. In the same period GOP presidential hopefuls and the RNC had spent half that – around $5 million – on online ads.

Borrell breaks out spending forecasts for the most popular online ad formats. The largest chunk goes to paid search – $51.9 million or 32.6 percent. Targeted display – which includes social display like Facebook advertising – is expected to attract $47.4 million or a 29.8 percent share. Run of site display advertising, on the other hand, is expected to amount to just $4.5 million – a 2.8 percent share.

Streaming video advertising has become an increasingly popular form of online advertising for political campaigns looking to extend the reach or their TV campaigns and target voters who don’t watch live television. Borrell forecasts streaming video spending will reach $35.1 million in 2012, a 22 percent share of online advertising.

Email spending will hit $17.8 million or 11.2 percent share. Streaming audio will amount to a 1.5 percent share, or $2.5 million, according to Borrell.

The research firm reports that local media outlets will reap “a few hundred thousand dollars” for online ads from political advertisers in 2012.

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