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Political Online Conferences Do Not Embrace Traditional Search Marketing


Search Marketing appears to be a scary thing when it comes to Political campaign managers and their client the candidate. There’s still a strong sense for traditional "offline" marketing to get donations, volunteers, etc… The magical online tactics that are currently embraced are a little strange, because it contains the late 1990’s phenomena of Banner Ads & email, along with newer tactics such as viral marketing, Widgets, blogs and social media. However, with all of that, Search Marketing, which accounts for Billions in revenue is still looked upon as not that important. And the Search Engines know this!

Here’s a Little on the Politics Online Conference:
I had the opportunity to attend one (1) day at the 2008 Politics Online Conference in Washington DC, and I was truly stunned by the lackluster promotion of Search Marketing, especially with paid search. The #1 advertising vehicle was "BANNER ADS" Most of the vendors in the expo section were either selling CMS based website building, Banner ad services, and advertising on political sites such as Politico, National Journal, etc… Even with Google and Yahoo as sponsors to this event, the big search search engines did not focus on PPC. The only area of some focus was on Contextual advertising with regard to blogs and new sites.

Snippet from the shows website: The Politics Online Conference
sits at the intersection of smart politics, good governance,
transparent democracy, and innovative technology, spotlighting tools,
applications, strategies, and ideas that affect a range of functions,
from writing policy to organizing democratic movements to running a
smarter political campaign to building dialogue with your
constituents. 

People come to the Politics Online Conference
to learn about cutting-edge trends and to gain access to the
visionaries who make those trends possible. They come to find
solutions. They come to discuss their ideas with other experts in the
field and outside the Beltway. And they come to network.

Search Networks? Contextual Networks Only:
I got the sense that Google and Yahoo already knew that Politics and Political organizations would only utilize the contextual as well as their advertising networks. Traditional PPC was non-existent. In fact, during a search marketing session, the only mention of search marketing was in reference to contextual search where Blogs and news sites were the prime vehicle for CPC. When I posed the question about this, the panel could not answer the question why the Search Network was not part of their strategy. At the end of my question, I posed the idea that "is the reason why you are only using the contextual networks because you cannot effectively monetize and achieve a successful ROAS% in donations and leads in the price gouging in the Google Search Networks." In the response to that long winded question, the presenters just nodded their heads.

Yahoo’s Ad Solutions for Political:
The largest and most engaged audience of voters anywhere

Yahoo! delivers more registered voters than any other network and our
users spend more time within the network than anywhere else. We’ve
built the leading sites for connecting citizens to politicians, their
communities and the issues they care about.

In conclusion:
Traditional "full circle" search marketing in Politics is not getting the attention it needs right now. Campaign managers are scared of the ROAS% factor, but the big issue appears to be reputation management.  In my own personal experience, PPC on the search network is more of a can of worms when reputation management comes into play, especially when the client does not understand search marketing to begin with. You cannot Trademark a candidates name, nor will Google interfere with this.

I know from experience that setting the expectation is just as important as the quality of the work you provide the client. These expectations are magnified by 10x when it comes to the political arena because the typical campaign (not all, just from experience) are not very online marketing and conversion savvy. The more you can take the complexity out of it and relate everything to them in a language they can understand, it will do wonders for the relationship.

Simple Example:

  • Impressions = Eyeballs
  • Clicks = Potential Volunteers + Contributers
  • Conversions: Contributers
  • Leads: Volunteers
  • CPA = Avg cost for each person who donates
  • Search Network: Google

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One Response to "Political Online Conferences Do Not Embrace Traditional Search Marketing"

  1. Interesting. I never even considered political search engine marketing.

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