US08 – Online Marketing moves into the mainstream

by Peter Young on November 7, 2008 · 0 comments

I, like many have been following the recent events in the US election, with the fight for the White House. It was therefore interesting to see the influence online has played in the campaign. Two recent articles have really struck a cord as a result.

Firstly, Sage Lewis highlighted the importance of online (and in particular Search and Social Media) played in Obamas rise to the White House. In his article, Sage mentioned a number of interesting statistics, namely:

  • There are nearly 2 million links to Obama’s website, nearly twice as much as those pointing to John McCains website.
  • According to statistics released by Rubicon Consulting, “Democrats are more active online than Republicans. Democrats are more likely to participate in online communities, and say they’re more heavily influenced in their voting decisions by information they find online.”
  • Obama’s campaign had social media at its heart, not just in terms of the site itself, but also in terms of the personnel involved. The involvement of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, shows the importance of social media within the strategy.

The second article of particular interest to search was Kate Kay on Clickz. In the article, Kate highlighted that Obama’s campaign spent nearly $8 million through October to Google, Yahoo, Facebook, news Web sites, ad networks, and in-game ad firm Massive (which I talked about at the recent Interactive Marketing show in Manchester). In particular it is interesting to see where the money was spent.

  • Just over $4 Million on Paid Search – roughly broken down $3.5 Million to Google, with Yahoo accounting for about an eighth of that, with $673000.
  • Nearly $8 million spent on online ads.
  • Interestingly, the spend on Social Media comes to the fore. Nearly three quarters of the social media budget used in September alone, with Facebook taking the lions share.
  • The use of MSN owned Massive Incorporated (well worth a look) was interesting alone. The campaign placed ads pushing an early voting message in EA games, including a racing game called “Burnout Paradise,” targeting them to players in 10 battleground states.
  • Ad networks were a particular focus with more than $600,000 was paid to a variety of networks throughout the year, including AOL’s, Collective Media, Undertone Networks, Burst Media, Quigo, DrivePM, Pulse360, Specific Media, and online video networks Broadband Enterprises and Tremor Media.
  • Local online media targeting also saw significant spend with around $100000 being spent.

Politics is an area many people have an opinion about, and it is therefore suprising it is often not integral to modern day political campaigns, however it is encouraging to see more and more focus given to Online. In particular key channels such as Search (inc Online PR/Blogging), Display Online Brand Management (and monitoring in particular), should be a fundamental part of any modern day political framework.

Given the noise that has been generated on Twitter by many of my search colleagues with regards to the US Elections, it is suprising that McCains camp didn’t use online as a bigger battleground, and I personally think this is the first of a more digitally focussed policital landscape moving forward, as even we in the UK start using online as part of the political juggernaut.

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