As the Obama campaign continues to expand its buys on national network and cable TV, including time on National Football League and Major League Baseball broadcasts, it has expanded its buying of 60-second spots on local stations and local cable and has started buying 120-second ads as well.
The Obama campaign started airing some 60-second ads June 20, but while it spent $12.7 million to air them 15,760 times through Sept. 1 -- a period of about 12 weeks -- it has spent $21.2 million to air 14,158 one- and two-minute ads from Sept. 25 to Oct. 13 -- a period of a little more than three weeks, according to TNSMI's Campaign Media Analysis Group.
Included in that flight are two 120-second ads, both of which featured Mr. Obama on camera talking about his background and beliefs. The two 120-second ads alone aired 5,513 times in a buy CMAG estimates at $11.5 million.
The Obama campaign has also bought some longer spots on network TV, including 60-second spots on "The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Early Show," both on CBS.
"You don't do this if you are on public financing," said Evan Tracey, CMAG's president. "You don't drop this much money. They have the quantity, and now in the long-form, you can say they have the quality."
Jim Margolis, the GMMB executive who manages the Obama ad team, said the longer-form ads offer some unique opportunities.
"First, we think that every time Barack has an opportunity to talk to people and give them a sense of what he wants to do, it helps. The longer format allows detail, gives him a chance to deal with issues and proposals in a deeper way.
"Second, we think it's important for voters to see him talking directly -- unfiltered -- to them. They are making a big decision. The least we can do is give them an opportunity to look him in the eyes.
"Third, we believe voters want to hear what you're planning on doing -- not just negative hits. Finally, given the clutter, we think the longer format breaks through," he said.
Within the last two weeks, the Obama campaign has run ads on the Weather Channel, ESPN, Discover Channel, Animal Planet, History Channel, VH1, Comedy Central, True, Military Channel and A&E. It's also running ads on all the broadcast TV networks.
As of last week, the Obama campaign had spent $154.5 million to air spots 292,463 times, vs. the $94 million the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee have spent to air spots 217,384 times. None of the McCain spots are for more than 30 seconds. The ads the McCain camp jointly pays for with the Republican National Committee have less than 13 seconds of copy specifically about Mr. McCain.
The Obama campaign is also advertising in more states, an advantage that grew last week as the Obama campaign launched ads in West Virginia. The Obama campaign is on TV in 19 states. The McCain camp is in at least five fewer states. Both campaigns are also doing radio.
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Maxwell Lakin in New York contributed to this story.