Romney Tops Digital Ad Spending by GOP Contenders

Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Michele Bachmann appear to be the biggest digital ad spenders among the 2012 GOP presidential primary candidates. Though it is unclear precisely where the money is going, the most recent quarterly reports indicate that Romney is outspending his counterparts in the online ad arena. Yet, if one thing is crystal clear, it’s that President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party are way ahead of the Republicans in  fundraising and digital ad spending.

Romney’s camp spent around $330,000 with digital consulting firm Targeted Victory from April through June, according to ClickZ’s analysis of Federal Election Commission reports. The company handles online ad and related efforts for Republicans. In the same time period, the Pawlenty campaign paid nearly $65,000 to Engage, another digital firm serving Republican clients that is handling Pawlenty’s web ad efforts.

Bachmann is also among the bigger online spenders thus far. Her campaign paid Republican digital ad consultancy Connell Donatelli just under $50,000 in June.

Rick Santorum’s campaign paid RaiseDigital around $10,000 in April and May for Google advertising and online fundraising consulting, according to FEC reporting. In May and June, the campaign spent close to $4,000 with Republican digital agency Emotive for Google ads. The only other GOP primary campaign that reported online ad-related purchases was Ron Paul’s, which bought around $100 worth of Facebook ads in May. There was no July quarterly report filed by the campaign of late-entrant Jon Huntsman.

The Republican National Committee spent around $23,000 earlier this year, from February through April, with Emotive, Connell Donatelli, Campaign Solutions, and directly with Google, on online ad-related purchases.

Obama for America and the Democratic National Committee – as is typical of incumbents – are far ahead. Since March, OFA and the DNC paid $1.04 million to Bully Pulpit Interactive, the firm handling 2012 online ads for both groups. The number is unprecedented and indicates a strong commitment to spending on digital media to fuel Obama’s fundraising and volunteer organizing efforts.

At this stage, online ads from the Republican candidates have similar goals to those of the President’s campaign – mainly, to generate signups to build a list of supporters, and in turn, encourage them to donate money.

The FEC reports also offer a glimpse into how much key digital staffers within the campaigns earn. The role of in-house digital director is a relatively new position to hold, and the only GOP candidate who’s officially named one is Romney. How much does a digital director make? Romney’s Digital Director Zac Moffatt is being paid $12,500 per month according to the campaign’s payroll reporting. That totals $150,000 a year. Moffatt started with the campaign May 1.

An important digital campaign member on Pawlenty’s team is Lucas Baiano, the young filmmaker who’s behind the candidate’s prolific online videos. From April through June, Baiano was given around $12,300 from the campaign in payments labeled “payroll.”

GOP Presidential Candidates
Online Ad Spending
April-June 2011
Candidate Amount Spent on Online Ad-Related Buys Payees
Mitt Romney $329,485 Targeted Victory
Tim Pawlenty $64,774 Engage
Michele Bachmann $49,395 Connell Donatelli
Rick Santorum $14,364 RaiseDigital, Emotive
Ron Paul $113 Facebook

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