Will Election 2012 deliver a mobile ad breakthrough?

The campaign for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will spend big dollars this summer to deliver ads to voters’ iPhones and iPads. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Romney team will deliver mobile ads in swing states to complement TV ads.
The report (sub.req’d) says that the Romney campaign is the first to buy ads delivered on Apple’s (s appl) advertising platform, iAd. The campaign explained the ad purchases to the Journal, saying that mobile devices are “the most personal device you carry. We felt like we wanted to connect with people where they spend their time.”
Romney’s move also suggests that, in the same way that 2008 was the first social media election, the 2012 campaign will be the first to include widespread adoption of mobile ads.
Both campaigns are predicted to spend $159 million on online advertising, and the mobile portion of that could help shape the extent to which consumers will accept ads on their phones and tablets. So far, mobile advertising has sputtered despite perennial predictions of a big breakout. Skeptics say that mobile screens are too small for effective advertising and consumers find the ads intrusive.
The Romney campaign is betting that the mobile ads will lead to deeper engagement and encourage voters to donate and share the Romney messages with their friends. The Obama campaign and Apple declined to comment to the Journal on Romney’s iAd initiative. Both sides have been using Google’s (s goog) mobile ad network.
The Republican campaign is also augmenting its mobile strategy with its ‘With Mitt‘ app, an Instagram like tool that lets supporters share photos overlaid with patriotic or pro-Romney images. The app appears to be a clever idea in light of the enormous population of sharing online photos — what Om calls “the basic unit of digital emotion.”
The “With Mitt” app, which lets users share photos by email, Facebook (s FB) or Twitter, appears to have smoothed over an earlier glitch in which it misspelled “America.” Here’s an example, using the “I’m a Mom for Mitt” overlay :

I couldn’t find an Obama campaign equivalent to ‘With Mitt’ but the incumbent’s team is touting its official Obama 2012 app that allows users to receive news, donate and more.
(Main image a still from Romney iPhone video via WSJ)