Borrell: Political Ad Spend Disappoints

NEW YORK Despite the record-breaking funds raised by President-elect Barack Obama, total political spending for the election will come in below expectations. According to preliminary estimates from Borrell Associates, overall spending will total $2.16 billion, with about $2 billion spent on traditional media, including TV and radio and $17.9 million spent online.

“Overall, this was a disappointing election for TV. It just wasn’t the cornucopia everyone thought it would be,” said Kip Cassino, vp of research at Borrell.

The real story, said Cassino, is online spending. While still less than 1 percent of total spending (0.8 percent), this year was the first election where candidates, particularly Obama, used the Web to their advantage.

More than a third of online spending (34.3 percent) supported paid search placements. “Most of the that was targeting social sites to collect names in order to drive people to their Web sites,” Cassino said. “So while online spending doesn’t add up to much, if you look at the overall result, one candidate could afford a half hour of time on four TV networks and the other couldn’t. One candidate could turn ads on and off like a spigot, and the other couldn’t.”

Streaming audio and video of the candidates ads was the biggest online expenditure, nearly 42 percent of the total online spending.