Political Ad Spend Fails To Materialize Online, At Least For Primaries

While the amount of ad dollars spent on this year’s national elections are expected to be another record-setter, so far, very little of that money has been going online. Mediaweek takes the pulse of sites like WashingtonPost.com, Slate, FoxNews and Wall Street Journal Online and finds none reporting any boost in political ad spend, even as the primaries heat up.

Playing it safe: During a presentation on ad industry forecasts at last month’s UBS Global Media Conference, Evan Tracey, COO, TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, said that the research suggests a wariness on the part of politicians when it comes to internet advertising. Most political ad spending tended to be centered around issue ads on partisan blogs, which are relatively inexpensive. Mainly, political campaigns are leery of the internet, since they aren’t sure they can control what their ad is seen with. Anecdotally, Tracey referred to the displeasure Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign felt when one of the campaign’s ads inadvertently appeared on a gay-themed site.

Not a priority: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) claims to have made some headway in attracting political dollars to AdSense in the past few weeks. And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has sought to emphasize his maverick style recently, has also been running ads related to keywords connected to his campaign. But overall, a number of candidates have been relying on their own websites and on the free publicity provided by their YouTube channels. The large ad networks, perhaps sensing the campaigns’ reluctance, appear to be shrugging off the dearth of political ad dollars making their way online, Mediaweek says, citing a comment from Curt Viebranz, EVP of AOL and president of Platform-A (NYSE: TWX). Ultimately, TV continues to be the main focus of political campaigns, because the nature of campaigns, no matter the party, tend to be conservative in scope.

Update: I checked in with another network AzoogleAds, which has confirmed the lack of political ad money devoted to digital. AzoogleAds

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