In Saturday's Wall Street Journal, there was an article called the Kos Celeb. It is about Ned Lamont trying to get into the Connecticut Democratic Primary...
...to challenge seating Senator Joe Lieberman. Now, I'm not going to try and politicize this article because most of the Kos Celeb article has to do with Mr. Lamont's views on national issues and why he is running against Senator Lieberman. What I want to do is point out a few interesting points in the article from an online advertising POV.
First of all, it seems that Mr. Lamont is favored by a lot of bloggers, most notably the Daily Kos (ding, ding, the reason for the title of the article), and other internet organizations (particularly moveone.org which can bring donations and some support).
A quote from the article says "...you walk in there not knowing whether there's going to be 10 guys...or 100 guys ....and thanks to Myleftnutmeg.com there's more likely to be 100 people there."
A little later on the article (if you still are awake after reading his views), it says that Mr. Lamont has an uphill battle (senators get re-elected at an 85% clip) and Mr. Lieberman can take comfort in the failure of netroots thus far to produce many election victories. Hmmm -- what about Howard Dean and moveon.org support? Well you know what happened to Dean and according to the article moveon.org endorsed 27 candidates in 2004 and only 5 won; I wonder if those 5 would consider moveon.org a significant reason for their victory.
Check this out. According to Google Trends, Mr. Lamont was more popular than Senator Lieberman up until about the end of March and now it looks like his "noise" is falling off a table like a Roger Clemons split-finger fastball. I guess being loved by internet political bloggers only takes you so far when faced with a sitting, popular Senator.
What's wrong in Whoville? Nothing actually.
Political campaigns build websites, blogs, and are voracious users of email to push messages and donations. There are more list swapping and list purchases than what I'm accustomed to (at Harrisdirect, I NEVER used 3rd party lists). They know they can generate enough buzz online to fill a speaking event or rally and spend a lot of time keeping their websites up to date. I've been in many meetings discussing how to get web ready photos and videos for streaming on their website. How many of you private companies out there spend time shooting pictures and videos specifically for the web? While at Harrisdirect I was a maverick for shooting photos for our online advertising campaigns....woohoo!
You know what else politicians are starting to embrace? Search. I can't run enough paid placements campaigns on Google, Yahoo, and eventually MSN. In fact, I have a lot of fun running Google campaigns because I can run many difference creatives, geo-target issues related words and the reporting is easy. I also make sure that all search campaigns have email and donations tracked by every keyword; that way I can measure Cost per Donations (CPDs) and Cost per Email (CPEs). Even though search is working, we still have a long way to go in optimizing campaigns and bid management. It helps that I've managed over $2 million worth of search campaigns since 1998.
Display advertising to drive donations, push messages, gather emails, and drive traffic is really in its infancy. And, you know what? I like the challenge even if it takes a while. What we need to prove is that ongoing online advertising campaigns can produce donations, emails, traffic to websites, and eventually a winning election that online is one of the main reasons for the victory. I don't want you to think that there are no online media buys; there are quite a few because I'm buying the media for them. You just have to keep working the equation and eventually something will pop.
Until that time, don't sit back and think nothing is happening. There are tons of websites, blogs, email, communities, streaming video and audio, and a ton of paid search placements - a lot of techniques that most private companies should be jealous of.