TV Gets More Love Than Digital in Campaign Spending

By hpcustomercare / / Where’s the digital love? Surprisingly, it’s not in political advertising. Despite the mass amounts of Internet buzz generated around politicians, campaign managers are pumping a lot more money into TV spots than into digital ads. Borrell & Associates, which tracks digital ad spending, announced that politicians will spend $100 million in digital media up to 2012. While this is a 354% from 2008 and 127% increase from the 2010 midterm elections, this chunk of change still only comprises 1-2% of cumulative ad spending. Why is that? Establishing a digital presence should be a priority for candidates, but many still do not make much of an effort. Partisan nano-stories, which are often fundamentally false, dominate the blogosphere leading up elections. Candidates can combat this hype and misrepresentation through interactive, digital campaigns. There have also been many user-generated successes, such as’s “Yes We Can” music video to promote Obama’s campaign, but candidates cannot solely rely on user-generated content. Election debate is inherently social, therefore, a candidate’s heaviest investments should be in generating positive social discussion, which can easily be done through online forums. In an AdAge article from August 2010, Kip Cassino, Borrel’s VP of Research, commented on how surprisingly little candidates were spending on digital ads. In 2010, digital spending doubled from the 2008 election to about $45 million, but this was still roughly 1% of all media dollars. Cassino said, “It’s surprising how little the candidates are taking advantage of anything beyond what their moms and dads would have told them to do.” It seems that not much has changed in almost a year, which has seen significant technological advancements and acceptance of digital as a potentially killer strategy. There’s no excuse for digital advertising to be lagging behind in the political realm. Nowadays campaign managers, and the agencies they work with, need to be digitally savvy. In April, NPR published a piece entitled, “Digital Media Could Make Or Break Presidential Race,” citing Sarah Palin’s half-million Twitter followers, Mitt Romney’s web announcement, and Obama’s visit to Facebook headquarters. While these are important points to make (even though Palin hasn’t announced her bid and Obama’s visit wasn’t for a campaign), it takes little money to make these digitally supportive strides, as opposed to buying out a spot on primetime network television. Remember Obama’s half-hour campaign infomercial of 2008? It’s time to pump money into digital advertising in the face of the ever-fluctuating, passionately contended political landscape. As we get closer to the most digitally-hyped election in American history, the candidates that step up to the cyber-plate could see some surprising successes.