Big disappointment for online ad execs: the political dollars aren’t flowing, and some now believe it will be at least another election cycle before online media gets a meaningful share of political ad dollars.
Barack Obama and John McCain are allocating less than 2% of their advertising budgets online, according to Michael Bassick, of digital political consultancy MSHC Partners.
Ad execs tell MediaWeek they’re puzzled by the lack of spending, especially given how important the Internet in the rest of the poltical world: Obama, most obviously, is plenty familiar with the Web and its fund-raising power. But CNN sales chief Greg D’Alba says he’s seen banners from Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, but nothing from McCain. Says MSNBC.com sales director Moritz Loew: “This was not the year it all went digital.”
Obama bought 18.7 million ad impressions in March, versus 7.2 million for McCain, according to ComScore’s Ad Metrix. (Netflix, by comparison, buys 5 billion impressions a month.) McCain was a little more aggressive in search advertising, buying 5.4 million impressions in May compared to Obama’s 1.8 million impressions, according to Nielsen. But spending rarely exceeds $100,000 for a single buy for either candidate.
Four months remain and Obama just opted out of Federal matching funds, meaning there’s no cap on his fundraising–or spending. Also: while there have been some isolated 527 ads cropping up, Google political director Peter Greenberger says the independent groups haven’t yet begun to spend. So, perhaps, there’s still time.
No doubt this will be big topic of discussion at Techpresident.com’s Personal Democracy Forum in New York today. We’ve got a correspondent there and conference organiser Micah Sifry will be sending updates via Twitter and streaming live on Qik.