eView: Political Marketers Have Embraced Web 2.0, But What About Online Advertising?
There is no question political and advocacy campaigns have embraced the Internet as part of the 2008 campaign cycle. Blogs, social networks and the YouTube phenomenon all are prevalent aspects of the marketing mix, and most campaigns have perfected fundraising and e-mail marketing online.
However, to date, the presidential campaigns have overlooked an opportunity to capitalize on what non-political marketers have known for years: online advertising works. Otherwise, it would not be a $20 billion industry, surpassing radio advertising revenue and continuing to grow at 20 percent each year. Today, online represents about 7 percent of all commercial advertising spending in the U.S., versus approximately 1 percent of advertising budgets in the political sector.
But don’t think political marketers are ignorant about the Web; they’re not. After all, Howard Dean proved you can move the masses to action online, and John Kerry, Ron Paul and John McCain are legendary for their online fundraising accomplishments. The campaigns also have proven to be sophisticated about e-mail acquisition and database marketing. Political marketers being hesitant to advertise online seems to stem more from the need for education and understanding than a lack of desire to embrace the channel.
Earlier this year, I co-authored a whitepaper with several political online experts to address this need. Titled “Best Practices for Political Advertising Online,” and published by the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, the paper provides political marketers with the specifics they need to start fully embracing online advertising as a means to achieving their political objectives.
In addition to discussing the changed media environment and how to reach voters online, the paper explores the tactics related to political marketers, including search engine marketing, display advertising and lead generation.
The most obvious form of online advertising for most candidates is paid search, which is a key component of any integrated online advertising plan. But display advertising online, or “banner advertising” — including video — is the area with the most potential for political marketers. This can be achieved through portals (AOL, MSN, Yahoo), individual news sites and blogs (The Des Moines Register, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post) and ad networks (ValueClick Media, Advertising.com, etc.), which reach more than 70 percent of the U.S. Internet audience with sophisticated quality controls, targeting methods and campaign optimization capabilities in video and banner advertising.