Forecast: Online Political Ad Spend Still Tiny

Only 1.5% of total spending, but a spike from 2008 election

Many of the headlines this year have referenced politicians embracing digital media to court voters and donors, but the ad dollars spent online are predicted to be comparably low. Online advertising will capture only $159 million, or 1.5 percent of the $9.8 billion total ad spend, according to a new forecast from Borrell Associates.

Still, the $159.2 million spent online will be up significantly (more than 615 percent) compared to 2008 when online political spending came in at a paltry $22.2 million.

Politicians will be coughing up about $42 per voter for the biggest windfall of political advertising ever. In total, political advertising will be up nearly 41 percent compared to 2008, according to the forecast.

With online getting a larger share of the dollars, the Borrell analysis shows a small shift beginning to take place in political spending. Broadcast TV, for example, will still claim the biggest share of the total spending at $5.6 billion, but its share will be down from 61.9 percent to 57.3 percent.

Cable also stands to gain this year. Forecast to attract $938.8 million, a gain of 48.3 percent over 2008, cable's share of the total will climb 6.7 percent to 9.5 percent.

Spending will be more concentrated in the Northeast and Rust Belt markets. For example, Virginia markets such as Norfolk and Richmond will attract between $60 million and $80 million while Florida markets such as Orlando, Miami and Tampa will see $150 million to $175 million.