comScore, Inc. released a report analyzing the use of digital media in the 2012 U.S. presidential election to date. Entitled The Digital Politico: 5 Ways Digital Media is Shaping the 2012 Presidential Election, the report examines key trends shaping the current election cycle in areas such as social media, digital advertising, and paid search.
“Digital media has emerged over the past few election cycles as a formidable platform for political campaigns, providing the ability to efficiently target campaign messages and reach key voting constituencies at a fraction of the cost of traditional media,” said Andrew Lipsman, VP of Industry Analysis at comScore. “Political blogs, online advertising and online fundraising have helped shape the past few elections, but 2012 will almost certainly be remembered as the ‘social media election’ given how central Facebook and Twitter have become to the current digital battleground.”
Key findings highlighted in the Digital Politico report include:
Digital Advertising Plays an Increasingly Prominent Role in Campaigns
While TV and radio ads still dominate campaign expenditures, digital advertising has grown in use with each succeeding campaign cycle. In the past six months, the Obama campaign has outpaced Republicans’ digital display ad presence by a ratio of 10 to 1, leading with the highest share of voice in online display ad impressions (86 percent) in February compared to Republican candidates.
Social Media Delivers Valuable Amplified Exposure for Campaigns
Through social media, some candidates’ campaigns have been able to deliver earned media impressions that are similar in scale – and in some cases much larger – than the number of impressions delivered by their paid display ad campaigns. An analysis of Facebook earned impressions and total paid display ad impressions in January 2012 reveals that Ron Paul managed to more than double his paid media exposure with earned impressions, reflecting the efficiency of social media. In contrast, Mitt Romney received only half as many earned impressions as paid impressions while Rick Santorum almost matched his paid total.
Social Media Facilitates Online Fundraising
An analysis of the donation rate among Barack Obama’s total social audience on Facebook, which includes fans and their friends, compared to donors who were not among these segments showed that fans and friends donated at a rate 2.5 times that of the non-fans. However, despite their higher likelihood of giving, fans and friends of fans actually donated less per person on average than the other non-fan donor segment, reflecting their younger age profile.
Political Sites & Blogs Reach Across Aisle, But Still Engage Partisan Visitors More Heavily
An analysis of the political affiliation of visitors to selected political blogs and sites generally shows higher percentages of visitors who are aligned with the sites’ political leanings. While these sites simultaneously attract visitors from both sides of the political spectrum, visitors who tended to side with the site’s partisan leanings exhibited higher engagement in terms of share of time spent on the site. For instance, while TalkingPointsMemo.com shows a notable percentage of Republican visitors to the site, Democrats account for the vast majority of time spent on the site at 70 percent.
Paid Search Use by Candidates Ramps Up Leading Into 2012
While the leading Republican candidates did minimal paid search advertising throughout 2011, they ramped up their paid search activity significantly toward the end of the year and coming into 2012. In the last six months, more than 60 percent of click-throughs to BarackObama.com came from paid search ads – the highest among the candidates. Search engine click-throughs to RickSantorum.com were also driven by a similarly high percentage at 56 percent.
For more information at http://www.comscore.com