Display Advertising In The Presidential Election

It was one of the closest Presidential elections in living memory, and right up to election day, polls were giving Romney and Obama 50% each. In the event, Obama scooped up votes in the key states he needed, and was re-elected for his second term. With such a close race, the amounts each side spent on marketing and advertising were huge, with budgets being directed in a number of different ways to reach key voters whose votes may have swung the result in either direction.


It’s telling fact that the picture Barack Obama tweeted of him and his wife after the result was declared instantly became the most shared image on Twitter and Facebook. Although at the time of the last Presidential election online marketing was important, it became even more important at the time when the race was so close. Traditional methods of canvassing such as meetings, rallies, having supporters call up voters in key areas and television advertising were still crucial, but the benefit of online advertising is that you can reach huge numbers very quickly, adverts can quickly be tailored to individual websites and adverts can be changed quickly too.

Early Start

Obama’s 2008 campaign saw very innovative use of internet and social media and 2012 was no different. The team at Obama for America started the campaign early, and as far back as June the Obama camp had adverts running on over 100 websites every day, compared with less than 10% of that figure for Romney. As the campaign progressed, both camps increased advertising, with the number of adverts used by the Obama and Romney camps peaking in October, a few weeks before the polls opened.


When you’re dealing with internet advertising, it’s important to look at how often an advert is actually seen as opposed to how many sites it is hosted on. An advert may be hosted on thousands of sites, but if they are very low traffic sites, nobody is actually seeing it. Obama’s online campaign studied traffic statistics for websites carefully, and made a conscious decision to target high-traffic sites to reach as many internet users as possible. Statistics show that although Romney and Obama had adverts on roughly the same number of websites, the strategy of choosing the most high-profile sites meant that Obama’s adverts were seen by 20 times as many


What you actually say to people when they are looking at the advertising is just as important as how you say it, and experts agree that overall, the Obama campaign ran a more innovative and attention-grabbing advertising program. They used flash to make their adverts more eye catching, while most Romney adverts were traditionally static. Obama’s campaign used call to action language which was stronger than the Romney campaign, and spoke to the viewer on a far more informal level. In areas with a high Hispanic population Spanish was used in the advertising and even the colour schemes chosen for the campaigns were more attention-grabbing for the Obama camp.

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This was a guest post by George who was interested by marketing in the election campaign. The presidential election campaign utilised display advertising to full effect. On The Spot Signs provide signs in Bristol services. Check them out for more info.

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