Monday, December 7, 2009

Bob McDonnell's Online Advertising

Last month, just prior to election day, TechPresident ran a short story about New York City mayoral candidate Mike Bloomberg and VA Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell running large Google advertising blasts in the runup to their respective elections.

The story discussed the strategy behind McDonnell's buy:
"...a Google Ad blast is running on behalf of the candidate today, targeted at both voters spending the day in Virginia and those many Virginians who spend their days working in DC. McDonnell's Google Ad buy started up at 9am, and will run through 5pm. McDonnell's buy seems to be partial to tech-focused sites. That's not the craziest approach given Virginia's vibrant tech industry and venture capitalist community."
Online ads can be an effective way to spread your political message to specific audiences and in spite of how much politicians are able to make online, they have not spent as much money on online advertisting as most companies.

According to Colin Delaney in his Online Politics 101, however, there are some cultural and technical barriers to online advertising becoming more widespread:
Running display ads is much more difficult than it should be, in part because different publications can have vastly different standards (I can remember one time doing three different versions each of four online ads, one set for the NY Times site, one set for Washington Post properties and one at standard 468x60 banner size for National Journal) and in part because ads can't be ordered from a single central broker.

professional campaign consultants in the U.S. have generally taken a cut of their clients' TV spending as a commission for placing their ads, and the industry hasn't worked out a similarly profitable business model for online political advertising.
As some of these hurdles are met, I think it will be interesting to see what percentage of advertising dollars on a political campaign goes to traditional vs. online media.