Romney Leads in TV Ads, Obama Dominates Online

July 10, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Broadcast & Cable | Radio | Social Media | Television

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney placed more local TV advertisements than all other candidates combined, with 4,549 ads, mostly on local broadcast television, through June 10, according to The Nielsen Company.

Since the two weeks beginning June 11, both Chris Dodd and John Edwards have run half of their reported TV advertisements to date, and Barack Obama began running TV ads in Iowa on June 27, Nielsen Monitor Plus reported.

Democrats are dominating new media with the online buzz tipping toward Democrats 64.3% of the time, according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s website generated the greatest number of unique visitors of any candidate site in April, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Nielsen’s analysis of the 2008 presidential campaign:

Traditional Media

Compared with the 2000 and 2004 elections, local TV ad spending for 2008, in general, started early, with seven candidates now running television spots. Republican Duncan Hunter was the first candidate to run a television spot, hitting televisions 625 days before the November 4, 2008 election, followed three days later by Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

This early television presence, however, pales in comparison to the 2000 race when George W. Bush began running television spots 821 days (more than two years) before Election Day.


Through June 2007, Mitt Romney had run the most campaign spots, with 4,549 in seven markets, including Iowa and New Hampshire – more than all other candidates combined and more than double the number of Democrat Bill Richardson, who ran spots only in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Republican Rudolph Giuliani, taking a different approach to traditional media, has run hundreds of radio advertisements, twice as many Mitt Romney, the only other candidate with local radio ads. The Giuliani campaign has already run radio ads in most of the major US media markets, focusing on Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Providence.

  • Mitt Romney had the most traditional ads with 53%, followed by Bill Richardson with 26%, Chris Dodd with 19%, and John Edwards with 1%.
  • 82% of the local TV ads are in Iowa (64%) and New Hampshire (18%).
  • Duncan Hunters’ 34 TV spots are asking people to join his campaign, seeking volunteers and donations.
  • Giuliani has run 642 radio advertisements in every radio market that Nielsen collects data; Romney has run 378 radio ads focusing on New Hampshire and Central Florida.

Blog Activity

Democrats have the early lead in the blogosphere, generating more buzz, or online mentions in blogs and discussion, by nearly a 2-1 ratio, according to Nielsen BuzzMetrics. With no online advertisements, Senator Obama has created the greatest Buzz volume overall. Senator Hillary Clinton, coming in a distant second, has used unique techniques to close the gap such as the recent online parody of the Soprano’s series finale to generate additional buzz.

John McCain is leading Republicans with online buzz, potentially because of his heavy online ad spending in recent months. McCain is followed relatively closely by Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, and distantly by Ron Paul.

The buzz for the Republican party overall is related to the heated discussion between Ron Paul and Rudolph Giuliani during the Republican debate in May 2007.


  • Obama had nearly double the buzz of Hillary Clinton (who is ranked No. 2 in buzz volume).
  • The Democrats (Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson) significantly dominate online discussion compared with the Republicans (John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul), with nearly double the amount of blog posts for the trailing12-month period.
  • Buzz for each political candidate peaked immediately after their announcements for candidacy, then tends to level off.

Websites and Internet Advertising

Republican Senator John McCain leads overall online paid advertising, followed by Republican Romney and Democrat Clinton. McCain had 12 times the exposure of other candidates as a result of online advertising in April, generating nearly 26 million unique impressions. However, McCain only placed fourth in the number of unique visitors to a candidate’s website in April.


Senator Clinton’s campaign, which appears to have spent much less, generated the second most website traffic, behind Democrat Senator Barack Obama.

Obama, with no online advertisements, dominated the pageviews of all candidates, with the Obama’08 website generating nearly 4 million pageviews from almost 650,000 unique visitors in April.


  • Senator McCain generated over 40 million unique impressions utilizing paid internet advertisements in April and May from both image- and sponsored-link-based ads; followed by Mitt Romney with 5.8 million unique impressions and Friends of Hillary generating just over 2 million impressions.
  • Senator McCain’s nearly 26 million impressions in April generated the fourth rank in online traffic to the a campaign website, with Clinton’s 1.4 million impressions contributing to second overall unique visitors to a campaign site; and Romney’s 877,000 unique impressions coming in a distant sixth.
  • Senator Clinton scaled back online advertising significantly in May, with under 1 million impressions compared with Senator McCain with nearly 15 million impressions and Romney with nearly 5 million.
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