Title Old Towne Media Topped Election Agency Spending in Q4 | Campaign Trail - AdAge

Publication Date 2016-02-16

Text Sanders TV ad

CORRECTION: This story originally reported that the campaign expenditures listed herein encompassed all of 2015 but that is incorrect. They refer only to expenditures made by candidate campaigns in the fourth quarter of 2015, from October 1 through December 31, 2015.

We hear a lot about how much money the 2016 presidential hopefuls are spending on ads. But there's an entire industry dedicated to churning campaign donor dollars into direct mail, TV spots, social-media efforts, data analytics, opposition research and more. In the fourth quarter, the Bernie Sanders campaign's TV-focused media agency Old Towne Media scored the most campaign cash -- $10.6 million -- among agencies working with the remaining presidential campaigns.

As the race grinds ahead to the South, it's apparent already that some consultancies bet on (or more likely, got chosen by) the wrong horses. Digital and fundraising firm Upstream Communications and data company TargetPoint Consulting lost their 2016 presidential client when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie threw in the towel after a tough loss in New Hampshire. When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul called it quits after a poor showing in Iowa, his digital consultancy Harris Media also was out a big client, one founder Vincent Harris praised in a post-mortem essay for having digital "integrated into everything."

But with a still-contentious Republican primary race and a neck-and-neck Democratic primary continuing into the foreseeable future, there are many more still standing. Some have already been paid millions by the campaigns, with much of that money going towards TV and digital ad buys. Among the biggest winners thus far, according to Ad Age analysis of Federal Election Commission reports, are Old Towne Media and Revolution Messaging, the TV and digital firms used by the Bernie Sanders campaign; GMMB, the ad firm used by Hillary Clinton, which was also President Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaign choice; Marco Rubio's media agency, Smart Media Group; and the new kid on the block, London-based Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics and targeting firm employed by Ted Cruz.

Some of the political firms that have garnered the most media attention don't appear to be profiting from the campaigns themselves much at all. While the Koch Brothers-affiliated data firm i360 has done work with the Jeb Bush and John Kasich campaigns, FEC reports show the candidates spent less than $50,000 combined with the company in the fourth quarter. GOP data firm Data Trust doesn't show up at all. WPP-owned Blue State Digital, the Democratic agency that helped propel Obama's '08 campaign to digital stardom, is a mere blip on the Clinton camp's spending screen. Targeted Victory, the company that made its name as 2012 candidate Mitt Romney's digital shop, earned only around $250,000 from the Cruz camp in late 2015, in addition to much smaller payouts for managing fundraising services for other GOP campaigns.

But FEC reports can be deceiving. Data firms and other specialized consultancies may not show up at all because they aren't hired directly by campaigns; rather, their services might be outsourced by larger agencies. Also, it's important to note that for this story Ad Age looked only at spending by the campaigns, not their PACs, which in some cases command much bigger budgets.

With that in mind, Ad Age has compiled a list of media agencies, direct mail firms, political consultancies and data firms that earned $100,000 or more for the quarter from the presidential campaigns still standing. The list does not include common political campaign services such as compliance, payroll management, fundraising technology platforms, travel expenses and staff. And some companies that have grabbed headlines such as Democratic data and campaign management platform NGP VAN didn't meet the minimum threshold. Total expenditures are rounded.

Jeb Bush

Mentzer Media Services: $662,000, TV media

FP1 Strategies: $584,000, Media consulting

Deep Root Analytics: $439,000, Microtargeting consulting

CMDI: $121,000, Database management

Southwest Publishing and Mailing: $105,000, Direct mail

Hillary Clinton

GMMB: $8.7 million, Media agency focused on TV

Bully Pulpit Interactive: $1.8 million, Digital agency

Chapman Cubine Adams & Hussey: $1.05 million, Direct marketing

Benenson Strategy Group: Strategy consulting, $477,000

Mission Control: $257,600, Direct mail

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research: Polling, $209,000

New Partners Teleservices: Phone outreach, $101,600

Ted Cruz

Cambridge Analytica: $3.06 million, Data analytics and digital media

Campaign Solutions: $2 million, Digital agency

The Lukens Co.: $1.9 million, Direct marketing

Strategic Marketing and Mailing: $868,000, Direct mail

CampaignHQ: $503,000, Phone outreach

One Stop Campaign Shop: $307,000, Merchandise for fundraising

RHA Marketing: $307,000, Direct mail

CMDI: $412,000, Data management

Targeted Victory: $247,000, Digital media

Communications Corp. of America: $227,000, Direct mail

Axiom Strategies: $131,000, Political consulting

John Kasich

Arena Online: $244,000, Digital consulting, merchandise for fundraising

Political Group: $156,000, Polling and consulting

Marco Rubio

Smart Media Group: $8.1 million, Media agency

Optimus Consulting: $463,000, Data driven political consulting

FLS Connect: $441,000, Political data and targeting

Campaign Solutions: $401,000, Data management and fundraising

Push Digital: $368,000, Digital ads, social media, data targeting

CMDI: $197,000, Data management

North Star Opinion Research: $177,000, Research

GBP Media: $159,000, Media production

Bernie Sanders


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