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How Obama’s Local Buys Added Up
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How Obama’s Local Buys Added Up

Nielsen’s final look at ad buys by the 2008 Presidential candidates proved one famous mantra: politics really are local.

President-elect Barack Obama placed one-and-a-half times as many spot TV ads than John McCain during the general election season (6/08 to 11/08), and almost twice as many ads dating back to the beginning of January when the primaries were just heating up.

SPOT TV ADS: June-Nov 2008

Barack Obama 419,667
John McCain 269,992

The local numbers show a much bigger discrepancy than those for national cable and network buys. Sen. McCain kept pace w/ President-elect Obama in those categories, with Obama edging out his rival by just 136 ad buys in the cable and network combined, dating back to January.

CABLE AND NETWORK ADS: Jan-Nov 2008

Barack Obama 3,004
John McCain 2,868

Other notable campaign facts from Nielsen’s research

  • Obama’s ads were on the airwaves over twice as much as McCain’s in the final month before the election (210,245 vs. 97,023 ad buys).
  • McCain took early advantage of Obama’s long primary battle with Hillary Clinton, which ended on June 3rd. McCain bought over three and a half times more spot TV ads than Obama in June (26,594 to 7,251), the only month that McCain beat his opponent in that category.
  • McCain made a major push with national buys in September, out placing Obama 10 to 1 in cable and network ad buys.
  • The two candidates alone combined for almost 850,000 total ad buys dating back to January.

Complete Ad Spends: Jan-Nov 2008

Month Candidate Cable TV-Units Network TV-Units Spot TV-Units Syndicated TV-Units
Jan-08 John McCain 0 0 8,951 0
Feb-08 John McCain 172 0 2,170 0
Mar-08 John McCain 0 0 149 0
Apr-08 John McCain 0 0 693 0
May-08 John McCain 0 0 5,135 0
Jun-08 John McCain 438 0 26,594 0
Jul-08 John McCain 88 0 30,350 0
Aug-08 John McCain 244 63 48,492 0
Sep-08 John McCain 887 221 68,288 0
Oct-08 John McCain 532 108 86,739 0
Nov-08 John McCain 99 16 9,529 0
McCain Totals 2,460 408 287,090 0
Jan-08 Barack Obama 66 0 20,913 0
Feb-08 Barack Obama 30 0 49,317 0
Mar-08 Barack Obama 0 0 15,078 0
Apr-08 Barack Obama 0 0 29,661 0
May-08 Barack Obama 0 0 18,993 0
Jun-08 Barack Obama 40 0 7,251 0
Jul-08 Barack Obama 92 0 61,521 0
Aug-08 Barack Obama 195 57 51,688 0
Sep-08 Barack Obama 91 14 91,412 0
Oct-08 Barack Obama 1,752 406 190,309 31
Nov-08 Barack Obama 249 12 17,486 0
Obama Totals 2,515 489 553,629 31
Grand Total 4,975 897 840,719 31
Source: The Nielsen Company – data is loaded through November 9, 2008