The most surprising aspect of Barack Obama’s purchase of ads on several station Websites, including WFAA Dallas and WKRC Cincinnati, isn’t that the Illinois senator bought the ads, but that sources tell me it’s the first presidential candidate purchase of Web ads so far in the race. Stations are bullish on treating the Web as a standalone business, as opposed to a value added, but this hardly feels like an endorsement of the Web as a viable means for reaching consumers.
Several candidates made a splash by announcing their candidacy and shaping their message via the Web. Surely the campaign managers in the presidential hunt are intensely Web-savvy, and test the heck out of different ads distributed on different media to different types of people, and seem to be convinced that online doesn’t deliver nearly the eyeballs, hearts and minds of television, radio and print. (I’m told some $5 million was spent online in the 2004 election.)
A few months back, WorldNow chief Garry Gannaway (WorldNow is part of the recent Obama Web buy), told us that candidates’ online ad spending should surpass TV ad spending in the 2012 election. Unless online spending takes off in the next eight months as the general election approaches, that notion seems a bit ambitious.