Romney Didn’t Crack Top 100 Display Ad List Until October

Obama dominates digital display game, but Romney makes huge November push

The political ad game is basically over. And while the two candidates and their respective Super PACs have assailed TV, radio and the Web with their pleas, all that's left is the counting of ballots. 

If you've been paying any attention to the digital ad game during this election cycle, it's been easy to draw the conclusion that President Barack Obama's campaign is far and away outspending and, perhaps, outperforming Mitt Romney's digital operation. To add some context to how the digital get-out-the-vote-effort played out in the display space, Moat, an ad search and analytics company, provided Adweek with some fresh data from its Top 100 advertiser ranking.

The results, which are ranked by total ad volume (and not spending), show that when it comes to digital display, not only was Romney well behind Obama but that the candidate didn't even crack the top 100 U.S. advertisers for online display until October. In fact, in September Obama was the 16th most active display advertiser in the U.S. while Romney was nowhere to be found.

By October, both candidates ramped up their digital display output, with Obama landing in the fourth spot on Moat's ranker, while Romney eeked into Most's list as the 100th most active advertiser (again, based on volume, not display). The very early November data shows both candidates continuing to dial up their Web presences, as Obama ascended to the No. 2 spot, while Romney climbed to No. 5.

Of course, it's unclear just how important digital display advertising will prove to be in this campaign. These figures are, however, some indicator of the campaigns' faith in the Internet as a persuasion medium. As it has been throughout the general election cycle, the Obama campaign seems to have invested early and often in online advertising whereas the Romney campaign has been more reticent, opting for higher engagement video ads and investing heavily in TV spend.

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