Newsweek has a great article in this week's magazine called The Search for A Candidate and it basically goes into an analysis of the search campaign that we at Connell Donatelli Inc run for the McCain for President campaign. Highlights from the article include:
- "The national polls don't reflect it, but in one sense John McCain is the clear front runner in the presidential race: he leads in search-engine ads." Personally I'd rather see McCain leading in the polls and winning states with a smaller Google buy.
- "Those who've figured it out are cleaning up: McCain's people have stated that for every dollar they spend on this form of advertising, they bring in three or four bucks in contributions."
- "Right now they're getting the words dirt-cheap," says Peter Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, a think tank that helps Democrats. "It's amazing how many people don't buy their name and the name of their opponents. That's a no-brainer."
- But only a few have realized that buying "competitive words"—meaning your opponents' names —can be even more effective. "It's a tactic, but not nefarious," says Eric Frenchman, a McCain consultant active in buying search terms. "Buying competitive words is a key to getting people information." Frenchman says that such ads often "convert"
- "Here again, McCain is busy; his people say that at various times they've bought 10,000 different words"
I think that was the most we've seen yet of anyone digging into political search campaigns. I don't think that keywords are cheap right now in fact I believe cost per clicks are going up. Besides a change to Google's algorithm which impacts how much you pay to be in the top position, there are more than just campaigns that are bidding on the candidate's name. Just look to see who shows up on the search results.
Finally, I'm also glad that Newsweek quoted me regarding buying competitive words. I've written and said over and over again that it isn't some nefarious trick to steal votes or web traffic (stealing traffic that doesn't convert is a waste of time). Search is built around people looking for information and if someone is searching for a competitive name, why wouldn't you want to have your ad there too? That's why super markets have a soda aisle and put Coke next to Pepsi. If you are looking for soda, why wouldn't you want to look at all the choices. I wish more bloggers and marketers would pay more attention to this tactic.