2012 Election to Drive $9.8 Billion in Ads, Online Share Growing

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If you thought the onslaught of political ads was overwhelming in 2008, just wait. More money than ever will be poured into campaign ads in 2012, according to a new report by Borrell Associates.

Campaigns, fueled in large part by Super PAC money, will spend a whopping $9.8 billion on political ads this year. That’s up from $7 billion in 2008. The advertisements will be increasingly targeted to individuals, study author and Borrell executive vice president Kip Cassino writes.

Campaign Grid’s Jeff Dittus recently told Street Fight the “watershed moment” in hyperlocal campaign advertising was when “TV becomes addressable and targetable via offline voter data.” The industry is getting there slowly, and the Borrell report shows why.

Broadcast TV will accounts for more than 57% of all advertising dollars, and spending on cable television will rise more than 100% from four years ago, Borrell anticipates. The report says campaigns and Super PACs will spend more than $6.5 billion on television before it is all over.

Online advertising, although still a small chunk of the business, will increase more than 615% between 2008 and 2012 to $160 million. The spending will not be distributed evenly, although Borrell allows that “in most markets, that translates to a few hundred thousand dollars in online spending, principally in the form of paid search advertising, targeted banners and streaming video commercials.”

Finally, expect data to drive the advertisements on a daily basis. Campaigns that fall behind will experience a pulling of support from the national parties who are seeking to maximize their advertising dollars:

“In 2010, both political parties proved adroit at pulling funding from faltering candidates to bolster those with more promise. This year should see the practice refined to a science,” the report reads. “Moreover, spending levels have risen sharply, even for local office candidates who used to worry mostly about lawn signs, posters and potluck suppers. Nowadays, candidates for these offices may well need media planning advice and TV spot production.”

Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Related Street Fight coverage: Will the 2012 Election Be a Hyperlocal Breakthrough? [VIDEO]