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Local TV Preferred Method of Advertisment Among Presidential Candidates
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Local TV Preferred Method of Advertisment Among Presidential Candidates

During the first quarter of 2012, campaigns for the five leading U.S. presidential candidates—Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum—placed nearly 66,000 advertisements on local broadcast media, according to Nielsen. Mitt Romney’s camp placed over half of those ad units (57%), while the other Republican candidates made up nearly a third of all units placed (32%) with President Obama’s ads accounting for the remaining 11 percent.

Not surprisingly, spot TV was the top choice among all candidates for reaching potential voters, representing nearly 75 percent of all ad units, followed by local/regional cable networks. Rick Santorum’s campaign showed the greatest balance between the two mediums, placing 59 percent of ads on local TV stations and 34 percent on regional cable networks.  President Obama’s team leaned more towards spot TV and placed over 80 percent of ads on those stations.  Ads for Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney saw the largest share of local radio placements among the candidates, 13 percent and 12 percent of total campaign advertisements, respectively.

Share of Campaign Ad Units by Media Type

Candidate Spot TV Local/Regional Cable Spot Radio* Total Ad Units^
Newt Gingrich 78.8% 8.1% 13.1% 5,978
Barack Obama 83.2% 15.9% 0.9% 7,388
Ron Paul 76.2% 22.0% 1.8% 5,601
Mitt Romney 75.1% 13.1% 11.8% 37,581
Rick Santorum 59.1% 34.2% 6.6% 9,231
Source: Nielsen
*Source: Media Monitors Inc.
^Ad units on Spot TV, Local/Regional Cable, Spot Radio and Local Newspapers

When looking at ad placements by market, the most targeted was Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson (4,021 advertisements among the five candidates), which spans counties in Georgia, South Carolina and battleground state North Carolina.  Rounding out the top five were Florida markets Miami and Tampa, followed by Columbia, SC and Orlando.

Top 10 Most-Targeted Markets*

Market Total Q1 2012 Ad Units
Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson (SC and NC) 4,021
Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (FL) 3,781
Tampa-St. Pete Beach (FL) 3,237
Columbia (SC) 3,025
Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne (FL) 3,011
Charleston (SC) 2,638
Jacksonville (FL) 2,539
Myrtle Beach-Florence (SC) 2,538
West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce (FL) 2,448
Detroit (MI) 2,337
Source: Nielsen
*Among ad units placed by Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum

Other findings include:

  • Seattle was the only market targeted by all five candidates during Q1 2012.
  • Although Newt Gingrich was the winner of the South Carolina primary, his campaign placed the fewest total ad units among the candidates in highly targeted markets Charleston and Columbia.
  • The top markets for spot TV placements for Team Obama included North Carolina and Wisconsin, Team Romney focused on several Florida markets and Teams Gingrich, Paul and Santorum advertised heavily on local stations in South Carolina.