One million ads. More than $1 billion. Ten battleground states. Those eye-popping figures tell the story of the 2012 presidential campaign TV ad blitz — never before has so much money been spent on so many commercials aimed at so few voters.
While both teams maintained a robust social
media presence and used online ads for micro-targeting voters based on their reading and shopping habits, nothing came close to the campaigns’ investment in the kind of 30- and 60-second TV spots that have defined presidential campaigns for nearly half a century.
This combination of two photos shows Mitt Romney at a rally in West Allis, Wisconsin and Barack Obama speaking at campaign rally at Springfield High School in Springfield, Ohio. AFP/Emmanuel Dunand/Jewel Samad
“The decline of television advertising hasn’t happened, and it’s not going away anytime soon,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, director of the Wesleyan University Media Project, which tracks campaign advertising.
“TV is where you look for the persuadable voter, and the internet is what you use to mobilise your base.”
The two presidential campaigns, the political parties and their allied independent groups aired 1,015,615 ads between June 1 and October 29,the Wesleyan project found — almost 40% more than the number of ads that ran in the same period in 2008, when Obama defeated Republican John McCain for presidency.
The proliferation of campaign commercials was fuelled by an unprecedented level of spending. The candidates, parties and groups spent more than $1.08 billion total on commercials since April according to data compiled by media trackers.