A few days ago I was reading my discussion forum, Israel Palestine Forum and a big, bold full color ad displayed for John McCain’s presidential campaign. Now I know that internet advertising can be an inexact science. But still I was astounded. Why would John McCain be advertising at a site called Israel Palestine Forum? Does he really think trolling for votes there is useful to his cause? And given how parsimonious the McCain campaign was supposed to have become after their near debacle a few months ago when they nearly ran out of money, I was tickled at how poorly they’re spending their internet buck.
Now the NY Times has run a story on precisely this subject, Your Ad Here: Web Surprise Hits ’08 Race:
Candidates and their supporters are using the Web more than ever to reach out frequently to visitors of sites who they believe will probably be interested in their promises and positions. On Monday, backers of Representative Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, raised more than $4 million on behalf of his presidential campaign through an appeal on a site created to appeal to libertarians.
But on the Web, campaigns are also venturing into unruly territory where they risk losing the thing they crave most: control.
When it comes to television, politicians, like all marketers, have decades of experience and reams of research to help guide them toward the audience they are seeking and to shape messages that will push the proper buttons. But for all the promise of the Web to allow sophisticated microtargeting of messages, it remains to many campaigns a bit of a Wild West where the rules are still being written and politicians by and large are newly arrived settlers.
“Campaigns have been buying advertising on television for 40-plus years now; they’ve only been buying ads on the Internet for three or four years,” said Mindy Finn, director of Mr. Romney’s online strategy. “It’s more uncharted territory, and everyone’s trying to figure it out.”
I laughed when I read this though:
…Campaign strategists say the Internet provides unrivaled opportunity to draw volunteers and donations for mere pennies, through Web sites that often make their interests and affiliations clear. (The campaign of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, knows, for example, it is talking to veterans when advertising on Military.com.)
But what DOESN’T the campaign know about where its ads are displaying?
But this didn’t surprise me in the least:
A former aide to Mr. McCain said he was surprised to see his candidate’s ads appear on the liberal Huffington Post Web site.