Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Best Practices for Political Advertising Online - the Breakfast Opening

8:30 a.m. Day two of the Politics Online Conference. Horrible traffic this morning. Barely made it to the breakfast opening this morning. But I am here and ready to go. The panlists take the stage almost at the same time my online connection becomes viable.

One of the caveats of the presentation is that the paper being discussed this morning was the brainchild of Tony Winders of ValueClick Media, a sponsor of the conference. I especially like this disclosure at the start of the session. Almost all of the panelists are involved in some type of online advertising, the same for the authors of the paper. Good for them. That makes the message more ethical. Something to consider.

8:45 a.m. Tony opens the morning networking breakfast.

"We would like candidates to start thinking about using the Internet for their message campaigns."

Samples of conversations he has had with political strategists: "Will you incorporate online advertising into your political campaign?" Answer: "It's too full. There's no place for you. All the space is taken."

After much consideration, a publication was born. Best Practices for political Advertsising Online - many authors. Made sense to put together because they saw a need for this education.

Tony Winders: The paper is divided into two parts. One: Marketing. Establish political objectives and how that fits into online advertising. Two: Establish an online marketing strategy.

This is not to say that political marketers do not understand the web. They don't understand the scale. This paper looks at why that is happening and some strategies to overcome it. Both the business of online advertising and politics are complex. This paper is not the holy grail. It's about a marketing mix.

Michael Bassick (VP of Interactive Marketing, MSHC Partners)- the "Debbie Downer" of the industry, by his own words. He feels like he is always in the difficult situation of trying to encourage greater usage, saying there is a small market share for the Internet with respect to political campaigns, but thank you for the pen. Funny.

For example: videos on YouTube -- free advertising -- were some of the winners for the Golden Dot Awards last night.

"We are seeing more activity in this primary stage of Election 2008." All of the candidates are using sophisticated ad servicing, rich media, and many have stopped asking the difficult question, "Why do I need to be online." Now the candidates are looking at acquiring budgets.

"Why is this exciting? Because of the trickle down. From the presidential campaigns, other industries will begin to realize the power of the Internet."

Karen Jagoda - (signonradio.com) - saw opportunity in 1998 because she was working in this field, but even then, she was unable to convince candidates to use the Internet for persuasion, not even findraising. There are many myths about the Internet as a way to reach voters. "We're about cross-media optimization. Not shutting out any medium," but thinks media should spread the wealth.

She authored chapter two about voters online - "We don't know enough about people. We need to learn more about African-Americans abd Hispanics. We, as a community, need to understand the phenomenon as it is happening now. Members in the audience on the research marketing side are urged to keep track of this and report what works and what doesn't."

She also authoried chapter three - perspectives - what is the best way to reach both sides of the campaign and how the consultants see the Internet. The report indicates that it's a money issue. She believes the reason consultants are not using the Internet is because they don't think it's useful for the voters they want to reach. Also, she believes the Internet is a useful tool in so many ways, not just in respect to funraising.

Members of the audience were invited to participate in their next survey that tracks these trends.

Rena Shapiro (Google) - discussed best practices in search. Google has over 65% share of search. The next closest was Yahoo at 20%. In deciding where to allocate dollars online, the best place to start is search. The Best Practices study emphasizes that point and allows attendees to distribute the paper to people at their places of business, especially those who remain unconvinced.

She believes it is important for all candidates to have a paid link for contributions on their sites. Why not? The campaign only pays if someone clicks the link. There is nothing to lose by including this type of advertising.

Another part of search involves branding and distribution of information. By using search media, campaigns will have better ability to disseminate their message in the place people are likely to search for it. Good point.

Jay Friedman (President of Goodway 2.0) - helped author the chapter about display. He is filling in for someone else and only has about five minutes for his presentation. Refer to page 39. A few important points. Appreciate the Internet's ability to reach many people at the same time. Imagine this as a dart trying to get the largest percentage of mindshare. Believes candidates should give themselves the chance to get in front of people. Even if your candidate is on the TV news every night, they still need to consider online marketing as a way to reach voters who are not seeing that message.

Thinks it is unfair to view the Internet as a cureall. It is not - however - there is a lot that can be done. The part that the Internet plays should not be ignored. Online can be used effectively. Julie had joked about "There is no one online" and it is a joke. Many people are online. One of the huge values of online is that if the person isn't there, the impression isn't served, and you don't pay. On TV, if you buy advertising and there are less viewers than projected, too bad. You still pay. So online has an advantage TV and radio cannot provide.

Tony Winders (ValueClick Media) - In charge of the service known as lead generation. This is an objective and a product. He explained the chapter written by Josh Gray, chapter six. Josh could not be present. The chapter is "Supporter Recruitment Through Lead Generation." Quickly building data bases of qualified users who have expressed an interest in a specific type of marketing.

9:15 a.m. This was a highly informative session about The Best Practices for Political Advertising Online. If readers are interested in reviewing the publication, I suppose they should contact Julie Germany, Director if IPDI or, as I just found out from student volunteer Max McGowen, e-mail Max directly at mmcgowen1 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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