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There are two interesting articles over at AdAge. One looks at Evan Tracey's (of TNS Media Intelligence) prediction that political ad spending will hit $2 billion for this campaign cycle surpassing the 2004 election by 17%....

The second one looks at how political ads have been going negative. Both articles should have been grouped together because they paint a picture on what the offline strategy looks like in 2006, and why more of that money should go toward online.
First the negative strategy. Historically, campaigns run negative ads because, well, they work. Yes, you hate them and complain about them, but they work. They break through the clutter and capture your attention. As long as the negative ads are backed up with a candidate's stand on issues, then the strategy should be effective.
Negative ads have been a part of American Politics for hundredsd of years. Don't believe me? Read up John Adams versus Thomas Jefferson. However, what's interesting (the only part for me) is the unknown quote at the end, "The negatives aren't working as well and so campaigns are turning up the volume in their ads," and this works nicely with a few quotes I have heard from other political consultants when it comes to their TV ads - basically, they aren't working as well as they did in the past.
Hold that thought for a second.
So, campaigns need to turn up the volume which works on two fronts. First, the tone to break through the clutter and the TiVos. The second is to buy even more ads while TV stations boost their spot market buys. Plus, with more donation money pouring in and the committees like the RNC, NRCC (House), and the NRSC (Senate) spending for their own advertising goals you have more dollars coming in. And, let's not forget special interest groups, people advertising for ballot initiatives and you have what should be the peak in TV spending.
More negative tone, more negative ads to try and boost assumed effectiveness (remember they are using tracking tools to measure viewership) translates into throwing more money after an outdated strategy.
The audience is spending more time online so the consultants should divert money to where the viewership is - online. We've been very successful at taking the same offline TV commercials and streaming them in banner units via PointRoll. In fact, we've streamed these ads against a match file of known voters and we know the click rate, traffic to the Web site and how long they actually watched their ads. We had one candidate spend a very small amount online for a 2 week buy and got over 3,000 hours of people watching his commercial.
Try figuring that with your offline spend, but you have to use actual data not derived using formulas that make you look good.
It is time for political campaigns to stop chasing their TV tail. The audience is leaving, and even if they are still in front of the boob tube, you have to fight through DVRs or people just running to the fridge to grab a drink. Stop looking at outdated models that predict trends based on derived viewers. Come over to the internet where we can measure what people are doing. You can still take those TV commercials that you worked so hard on to produce and stream them in a banner buy.
You know what, you actually might influence people....

Continue reading "How to Really Influence Voters" ... Read the full article

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Eric Frenchman is an online marketing and advertising consultant located in the Great State of New Jersey and Chief Internet Strategist for the online political agency Connell Donatelli Inc. Since 1998, Eric has managed multi-million dollar online advertising and CRM campaigns for AT&T, DLJdirect, Harrisdirect, and BMO Investorline and is a recognized expert in online marketing and advertising techniques. In 2005, Harrisdirect was ranked as the 17th largest online advertiser in the US and in 2003 was recognized as Best Financial Advertiser. Eric Frenchman's marketing blog is located here:

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