Part 1 of my week long look at my first time through a real election cycle. I originally was going to make the first post on what it is like to work in politics, but I was pre-empted by this political search study from the Rimm-Kaufman Group and I wanted to comment on it before a lot of people read it.
In general the biggest issue I had with the study is how they based their conclusions on a certain number of races, thereby introducing a selection bias into their results and that they also had no visibility into the actual spend per day. This led to the following conclusions that based on my experience in this election cycle I don't agree with:
- Few political advertisers use Yahoo or as they wrote in the details "we found virtually no political ads on Yahoo"- Wrong. All of our clients used Yahoo and most used MSN.
- Name-only search perspective - Wrong. They listed words which they thought we should have been buying but these words were either tested and removed or we used other better performing words.
- Limited tracking - Wrong. All of the clients used tracking as provided by the search engines and then our back-end captured the donation amounts and clicks. Current clients are being moved into a bid manager platform as we speak.
Focusing on a few races without regard to daily spends generated this conclusion "We believe political pay-per-click advertising is in its infancy. We base this opinion on the low utilization, limited tracking, Google-only perspective, and name-only search emphasis." You see, we were very sophisticated for the amount of dollars that was allocated to search. Limited budgets caused certain strategies. For example, if you had $1 per day to spend where are you going to put that $1? On Google only or split it up?
Enough complaining about the study, which I did take a little too personally. It did make some good observations about the text ads and looked at differences between Republicans and Democrats. However, I do agree that search marketing is going to explode (in a good way) leading up to 2008. So, to end this wrap-up...
Eric's Top Political Search Observations
- Campaigns all have different experiences with SEM, but all of them can benefit by spending $1000s per month.
- Republicans seem to have embraced more search marketing than Democrats with the Dems relying on blogs/SEO for search
- A well rounded campaign includes Google, Yahoo, and MSN
- Content targeting should be turned off for the vast majority of campaigns and especially for ones that are not spending a decent daily amount; however, it should be tested because there are a few campaigns that had successful content campaigns.
- Issues words convert differently for each campaign
- Need to know what the goals of the search campaign are: donations, traffic, email sign-ups, links to video, or branding. Each one of those strategies have completely different tactics.
- Monitor reported click fraud (fraud observed by Google but not charged) because if it is too high it may indicate a problem; there are plenty of zealots willing to bang your PPC ad and cause it to turn off when it hits a budget.
- Yahoo and MSN need to do a better job of marketing to the political industry
- Know when to geo-target and when not too or as I call it the Ryan Corollary
- And finally, political advertising is not like eCommerce or traditional advertising. The product is constantly changing and different issues impact the strategy.
That's a wrap on search or at least until Connell Donatelli publishes some papers. It really is going to explode leading up to 2008 especially with the people that we worked with this year that experienced what a well managed search strategy can do for traffic, donations, and branding objectives. BTW - if you need some help drop me a line...