The U.S. presidential candidates put a heavy focus on display, social and search ads during the first half of 2012. President Barack Obama spent $4.6 million on display advertising to get reelected -- taking 87% share of impressions, compared with Governor Mitt Romney at about $300,000, according to comScore's State of the Internet in the U.S. 2012 address released Wednesday.
While display advertising sends clear messages on direction, social media gives the candidates a method to connect more closely with voters. Romney's Web traffic leading to his Web site made up about 15% of Obama's 3.4 million, estimates comScore.
The candidates' social media strategy as of June finds Obama with 27.9 million Fans on Facebook, compared with Romney's 4.7 million Fans -- but the frequency of ad impressions tells a different tale with 3.6 and 5.6, respectively. Obama has 80.5 million earned media impressions, while Romney has 41.6 million.
On Facebook, Obama tends to attract a younger 18-24 age demographic; Romney, ages 45-plus. comScore said 26% of site traffic to mittromney.com comes from Facebook, but it accounts for a smaller audience compared with Obama, who took out ads in Electronic Arts' online games to reach a younger voters.
Similar to display advertising, Obama leads in the share of paid-search ads and clicks, but doesn't seem as effective, according to comScore. While Obama leads in shares of paid search impressions, Romney's creativity to run a paid-search ad promoting a dining experience with he and wife Ann drove up clicks, especially in May.
Obama draws more people to barackobama.com via smartphones compared with Romney -- about 1.08 million vs. 171,000, according to comScore. However, Romney seems to attract voters making an annual income of $100,000 or more.
Political sites and blogs also have begun to influence decisions, as a trend toward more video views picks up, according to comScore. DrudgeReport.com attracts 31% Democrats, 28% Republican and 40% Independents, according to July 2012 comScore.