Six of the leading Republican presidential candidates have spent a combined $1.4 million on online advertising so far during the 2012 election cycle.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's reelection campaign has already spent $5.8 million on Internet advertising - more than the campaign has spent on media consultants, broadcast, print and miscellaneous media combined, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The totals shown below only include direct spending on online advertising by the candidate's actual campaign. They do not include spending by Political Action Committees, many of which have been set up to support or oppose a specific candidate.
- Newt Gingrich (R) $64,9110
- Mitt Romney (R) $428,057
- Ron Paul (R) $288,331
- Rick Santorum (R) $59,518
- Jon Huntsman (R) $16,525
- Fred Karger (R) $100
- Total $1,441,641
Court rulings in 2009 and 2010 loosened rules on how so-called Super Political Action Committees spend advertising money, and a lot of that money is expected to head online. That could dramatically change the landscape of the 2012 presidential election and open new revenue streams for online companies that host ads.
PACs Could Spend Heavily On Internet Advertising
Most of the 269 groups that have registered as super PACs with the Federal Election Commission hire advertising agencies to make media buys, making it almost impossible to determine which specific companies got money when looking at expenditure reports. But one PAC, the Ron Paul-supporting group known as Endorse Liberty, has been making direct media buys, offering hints about which companies are poised to get a boost in the current election cycle.
Endorse Liberty spent $740,964 on online advertising in the two weeks ended Monday. Of that, $462,350, or 62.4%, went to Google for AdWords buys, according to OpenSecrets.org, a Web site operated by the Center For Responsive Politics.
Google Prepared To Work With PACs
Of course those numbers reflect spending by one PAC in support of one candidate, and they do not paint an overall picture of who the big winners and losers will be in online advertising during this election season. But they do suggest Google could dominate, and that may stem from the company's active solicitation of advertising from PACs. Google will also likely benefit from ads placed on YouTube by both the PACs and the campaigns.
"In 2010, independent expenditure groups had a limited budget, but we're already seeing that 2012 is going to be big," Sean Harrison, head of advertising sales for independent expenditures at Google, told TechPresident.
The blog reports that Google is actively mobilizing to handle campaign ads, including putting up a firewall between PACs and candidate campaigns, which are barred from coordinating advertising efforts one another.
As for what the campaigns themselves are spending, that's harder to tell: OpenSecrets only has breakdowns of general expenditures for each candidate's campaign, and online advertising buys are lumped under "Media" for most of the candidates.
Photo credit Gage Skidmore.