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Hey Google? Open Your Eyes And Let Political Campaigns Open Their Wallets

Ok, this is my first "rant" of 2008 and it deserves it. I am motivated by my experiences with Google and their stubborn lack of opportunity with regard to the Political Arena and Quality Score. No wonder PPC is not at the forefront of Internet Advertising spend, when Google makes it difficult to play the game. Let’s just say it’s a friggin nightmare. Let me explain:

Educating Quality Score to a Political Campaign Manager is like putting your hand over your ears and yelling LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA!!!!!!

The Reality of a Politics and PPC as of March, 2008:
When you have a candidate such as Barak Obama who has raised almost 90% of all donations online and the National Campaign avg. of Internet spend is 1%. HELLO???? Don’t you think Google should reach out and make their biggest generator of revenue (aka Adwords which pays for the elaborate schwag, Google Fridges and amazing 16-star cafeterias) a part of the mix. NOPE! Instead of promoting PPC or the Search Network, they focus on banner ads and contextual advertising as well as forcing $10 CPCs for low volume long-tail keywords in a remote geo-targeted areas.

The Lifecycle & Behavior of a Political Campaign:
Being that I am currently living through this, it’s a very fast paced, cut throat environment and after 1 day of spend, we hear things like "how many clicks, where’s the donations, how many volunteers, etc…" Funny, is that I agree with them and can’t blame them for asking. Their Jobs are on the line as well. It’s easy for SEM agencies and Google itself to promise amazing results, however there’s a huge difference between reality and fiction (which ironically is a very evident on politics)

Also, as I put my PPC Geek hat for a minute, there are PPC barriers in place that are inherently difficult for achieving a decent Google Quality Score to keep the costs down and volumes up.

  • Limited Account/CTR% History
  • Keyword Selections are not 100% relevant (95% is not good enough)
  • Ad/Creative Messaging change frequently (Editorial)
  • In the Ads, words like "Donate" & "Contribute" must go to a landing page with a Donation Form. If not, your turned off
  • Candidate Issue pages
    1. Keyword: Child Tax Credit
    2. Ad: … on cutting taxes
    3. Landing Page Content: Cutting Taxes, Tax Spending…
    4. Result: Sorry, BAD QUALITY SCORE, Pay $10.00 CPC to continue playing.

How can Google Fix This?
In order for Google to get more market share of the political campaign budgets,  Google MUST alter these rather increasingly “over the top” Quality Score measures to force lower. more manageable CPCs as they do with Google Grants and Non-profits where they limit the CPC to $1.00. If they don’t adapt something similar, they will never get a piece of the campaign dollars. If Google continues to raise and put a value behind a keyword, even though the traffic data for that keyword is minimal Google will never get PPC money from campaigns. Campaigns will continue to spend more money in display and PPC agencies & campaigns will put more money in Yahoo which doesn’t give us that problem. See my article about Yahoo Search Looking Attractive Again – Just stay away from the content network.

Here’s a great article from Online Spin: Politicians Still Missing the Online Opportunity by Joe Marchese which talked about the same issues.

In Conclusion:
To get this problem fixed or at the very least ease the pain, Google needs to step up as the search leader and adapt to the "realities" of the Political Arena. Listen to us PPC Geeks on the front lines and open your eyes which will open the campaigns wallets. Based on this single issue, online strategies are being altered, more advertising dollars will be moved into Behavioral Display Advertising, Yahoo and Social Media services.  The biggest part of making this work for candidates is to monetize every single event and put a $$ behind every one of them.

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2 Responses to "Hey Google? Open Your Eyes And Let Political Campaigns Open Their Wallets"

  1. SearchCap: The Day In Search, March 21, 2008

    Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web….

  2. This is very interesting! I have enjoyed reading this very insightful post. Very engaging and informative. Thanks for sharing.

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