Interesting article in Monday's Wall Street Journal titled Candidates Face New Test: Winning the Netroots Primary which really highlights why the 2008 election is pointing towards a much greater use of online advertising in securing the White House....
In summary, it talks about how the Democratic Presidential wanna-be list has to work the very strong internet wing of their party. Forget about whether the candidates themselves have Web sites, email lists, online donations, and blogs... because that is sooo 2006! Heck, even announcing your candidacy via an online video on the Web site or YouTube is great and really is on the cutting edge of public relations, but what I find more fascinating is how candidates are using social media to reach out to potential voters and how important their "Netroots" activity is to the overall campaign. There is lot of blog advertising and outreach to the Democrat blogosphere. The only part that is a little disappointing is the lack of a visible outreach beyond the core internet base via the internet.
Huh? That sounds like an earful if read out loud or looks like an eye full. (BTW - did you notice how "earful" is spelled versus "eye full." Kinda neat, huh?)
It is very easy to find your core liberal voter base online. Just look in the typical Democrat blogs. You know the ones I'm talking about -- Daily Kos and The Huffington Post to name two. In fact, I've seen plenty of blog ads banners for Hillary Clinton and John Edwards... but very little elsewhere.
These blogs form a significant channel for reaching their audience of voters and a great method to reach out to them in a cost effective manner (i.e. cheap but effective banner ads). And, the Netroots activities were successful in defeating Lieberman in a primary but not so good at the end game. Again the reason is focusing on your audience and not trying to reach out to other potential voters.
How else do you explain the heavy reliance on social media and the lack of advertising via standard online advertising or even search marketing? Yes, even PPC advertising doesn't seem to play a role, right now, in their online campaigns.
I could be wrong, but the only PPC campaign I've seen is for Barack Obama and that was confined to a few words on Google and nothing on Yahoo. I won't go into Republican search marketing, but lets just say there is more activity than just a few token words for one candidate.
The online channel for the Democrat nomination is certainly well-defined and serves a useful purpose in that process. Clearly the winner of the Democrat Netroots primary will have an advantage and that's why from an online advertising perspective it is fun to watch. The one downside is that by confining their online activities to heavy users of the blogosphere they could be missing out on extending their message to folks that just aren't spending every minute toiling over blogs.
The Democrats that I know in Corporate America don't spend their time on blogs; unless of course they are reading this one ;-)
p.s. Check out a related and interesting article in Washington Post called On The Electronic Campaign Trail.
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