Thursday, 28 January 2010

Google Campaigns

Josh Gans tweeted from Boston a while back:
The MA Senate candidates must have maxed out bidding on Google. Ads all over my Australian newspapers!
He was right! Writes the Google Policy Blog today:
We're excited to welcome Google's Elections and Issue Advocacy Team to the Public Policy Blog. Since 2007, they've worked with political candidates, consultants and advocates to build online advertising campaigns and fully integrate digital media into political strategy. This post marks the beginning of what we hope will be a regular series from the team.
On Google's Elections and Issue Advocacy team, we work with political campaigns of all stripes to help them use Google's online advertising platforms to build momentum, capture voter interest, steer debate and mobilize supporters. We've worked alongside candidates and issue groups on some of the top issues of the day—from health care reform and the Republican victories in November, to Scott Brown's upset in Massachusetts.

Today's electorate is hungry for political news and is eager to voice opinions online. This requires campaigns to adopt thoughtful and integrated strategies. And so as campaigns gear up for the November midterm elections over the coming months, we'll be sharing our thoughts on how they can take advantage of opportunities to do so. Today we are highlighting our top five strategies for using digital media to win:

1. Use search advertising to build your email list and raise money.
Everyone has seen the "Sponsored Links" on Google search results. These simple text ads, called AdWords, have been compared to direct mail because of their precise targeting and cost-effectiveness—you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. At the start of the campaign and throughout, running ads in your district on the names of your candidate and opponents, and on some of the key issues, can be a great way to capture voter interest. But rather than seeking a donation right away, put the email signup form front and center. It can help you build a bigger list, with greater potential for donations and engagement in the long run.

2. "Blast" the Google Network when you need to make a big splash.
The Google Content Network is made up of over a million websites that run Google ads as a way to make money, through a program we call AdSense. These ads can be simple text links, or video and image ads ("display" ads in industry lingo), tailored to your campaign's personal brand. When you want to dramatically raise the buzz level or increase momentum for your campaign—such as when you announce, or before Election Day—you can use a technique called the Google Network blast to blanket the Internet in your district or state with ads. Just about every election since 2008 has seen one or more Google Network blasts, including in Virginia and Massachusetts, and it's a great way to grab attention at crucial moments.
(emphasis added)
Go read the whole thing.

At Thanksgiving in 2008, I chatted with my wife's uncle who was a local Obama organizer. His description of their online campaign was mindblowing. The changes since the campaign I worked on in '97...we were working with steam engines by comparison. And it's still ramping up.

Running the tech/stats end of a decently funded campaign today would be insanely fun work for a politics-minded techie. Heck, even for a poorly funded campaign: lots of the stuff highlighted on the Google list is free.

I kinda like that Google's in the middle, selling arms to both sides. Bookmark the pub policy blog and watch for their future entries. This is going to be interesting.

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