Google Grabs Most of Obama’s $5 Million in Online Ad Spending

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgBarack Obama’s presidential campaign receives oodles of praise for its online campaign strategy, and Google is reaping the monetary rewards. So far this year, Obama for America has plunked down over $5 million on online advertising. While Google has by far grabbed the most cash from the Illinois Senator’s presidential campaign, Yahoo and various local media outlets have also scored.

Between January and July of this year, the Obama campaign clearly has experimented with a variety of Web advertising tactics, from search ads and ad network purchases to direct buys on online news outlets and social sites.

Estimated Online Ad Expenditures by Obama for America, January-July 2008
Media Firm Amount Paid
Google $3,048,642
Yahoo $618,005
Centro $512,551
Turner/ $215,200
Microsoft/MSN $214,762
Facebook $111,974
Politico $97,328
Broadband Enterprises $80,000
Community Connect $64,420
Source: FEC data compiled by ClickZ News

According to Federal Election Commission report expenditures compiled by ClickZ News, nearly 59 percent — more than $3 million — of Obama’s campaign coffers have been doled out to Google. At a distant second is Yahoo, which garnered just under 12 percent, or approximately $618,000 between January and July. The two top earners indicate the importance of search advertising, and to a smaller degree, targeted display advertising to the Democratic hopeful’s Web strategy.

In total, the campaign paid nearly $5.2 million to online media sellers thus far in 2008. The online ad spending estimates were determined by compiling individual expenditures shown in line items in Obama’s FEC filings reported over the past year. Most likely, outlying payments made in July, and possibly June, will appear in subsequent reports.

Another major recipient of Obama bucks was lesser-known firm Centro. The local ad company has made several ad buys on local newspaper, TV station and radio sites on behalf of the campaign. Though some of the $512,550 paid to Chicago-based Centro may have gone towards services and fees costs, the bulk of that money went to display ads targeted to voters in specific states or regions.

Recently, for instance, Centro placed ads on a long list of local radio station and newspaper Web sites based in swing states including Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico, Nevada, Missouri, Florida, and Virginia. and Microsoft each gathered approximately $215,000 from Obama for America; each represented about 4 percent of the campaign’s online ad spending this year. Though the CNN payments were for display ads run on the Turner Broadcasting System news site, it’s unclear how much went towards MSN search as opposed to display advertising.

The CNN payments were among about 7 percent that were made directly to individual Web sites, rather than landing on sites through ad network buys. Sites including Politico,,, Gothamist and garnered over $384,000 in ads bought direct through their sales teams all together through July, each scoring less than 2 percent of Obama’s campaign cash.

The Obama camp has been using ad networks other than Google’s content network, throughout the election season; however, large ad networks such as have barely made a blip on the screen. The AOL-owned network grabbed only $20,000 so far, according to FEC filings. Another big network, Valueclick, hasn’t shown up in Obama’s reports at all. All together, only about 4 percent of the campaign’s dollars have been spent with ad networks, most of them performance-based, including AOL-owned Quigo, Pulse360, Microsoft-owned DrivePM, and Specific Media. In March, online video ad network Broadband Enterprises collected the largest chunk of all ad networks — $80,000.

Although this election has become synonymous with social media, from user-generated commentary to up-to-the-second Twitter posts, social networking sites scored under 4 percent of Obama’s online ad budget through July. Facebook has gathered the most so far — around $112,000 or 2 percent. Community Connect, publisher of ethnic and lifestyle-oriented social networks like and, collected about $64,400. Meanwhile, social network giant MySpace saw a mere $11,500 early in the year.

View related Obama campaign online ad spending coverage from ClickZ News:

Obama Spent Most of $3 Million This Year on Google
Obama Aimed for Performance with Local and Social Buys in May

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