Bill Clinton says that in order to solve global warming we need to slow our economy down. Seriously this is what he said. Watch the video linked in the article.
February 5th is just around the corner and New Jersey is a key state for Senator McCain's campaign for President in 2008. As you long time readers know, I'm Chief Internet Strategist for Connell Donatelli Inc the firm handling Senator McCain's digital strategy, online advertising, and search marketing. In addition, I volunteered to help with Get Out The Vote Activities in New Jersey and run one of the two North Jersey Headquarters in Long Valley, NJ (surprise). We could use a few hours of your time in the next 6 days or so with getting the word out, posting signs, and making calls. If you haven't experienced GOTV activities check out this link of my GOTV activities in SC.
Things in New Jersey are really heating up now. Here's what's on tap for the next few days:
Seriously GOTV is a lot of fun and you can sway votes. Putting up signs locally lets people know that Senator McCain wants your vote and there are people that are supporting him. As silly as the signs look to some people, a lot of voters haven't made up their mind and want to vote for a winner or vote the way the larger crowd goes when they still are not sure which way to go. To get you going, here's a video of the family and I going out to put up signs locally.
Everyone takes their vote seriously, but any little GOTV could sway undecided voters at the list minute or get your supporters to the polls. Plus, activities like having volunteers make outbound calls to undecided and your base is extremely helpful. Having a real voice on the end of a call is not only preferred, it cost little other than time and besides who would you rather take a call from an automated robot or your neighbor?
If you have the time, please contact one of the NJ volunteers found on the continuation link below. If you are in Morris County or west of Morris County, drop me a line (email@example.com) and we can get you started today. If you can't and you are Republican, VOTE FOR JOHN MCCAIN FOR PRESIDENT ON TUESDAY.
On the eve on the Republican Primary in Florida, I'm getting more and more down on political blogs at least when it comes to discussing Republican candidates. I read tons of them every day including Townhall, Malkin, Powerline, RedState, Race42008, Instapundit, Politico, etc and for me the majority of them seem over the top, fake, and willing to write just about anything. Of course ones that really want to fool you will even make disclosures about who they support, but that still doesn't change the fact that they will write anything and take huge leaps of faith to support their candidate or bring a competitive candidate down.
Some bloggers like Michelle Malkin are truly in a league of their own. Malkin won't hide her disdain for a politician and even when I don't agree with her, I feel that she at least will try and act like a real journalist and back her opinions up with facts, links, and pictures. Jonathan Martin's blog is another I enjoy reading and not because he uses his blog to write stories; he already writes for Politico. Jonathan uses his blog for what blogs were originally designed to do - background information, quick breaking stories, and insider perspectives. Instapundit, Little Green Footballs, and Powerline are some other blogs that I respect a lot too. Those to me are good examples of political blogs even though I might not agree with their perspectives.
Other good examples are the average small individual blogger. I pick those up in my Google News looking for posts that people write about clients and one in particular. Again, I'm not expecting much and the average blogger is just giving their opinion to their readers - sort of like water cooler talk via the internet. Again I may not agree with their posts and often I will comment if I believe they are misguided, but as I wrote above, the individual blogger making posts is a good thing.
The bloggers in between Malkin/Martin level and the individual blogger is where it gets squirrelly. These bloggers are trying to jump into the big time and really seems to ignore journalistic standards. Perhaps they don't care because they are going out of their way to help a candidate, but the sites that publish these posts take the long term hits from it. I already have a few sites on my list that after this primary season is over, it is highly unlikely I will visit them on a regular basis again. Besides the blog posts, the comments are even more venomous rendering them mostly unreadable and really useless.
Besides losing readers in the long term, I'd imagine ad dollars will be harder to come by unless of course the site's candidate of choice ends up winning the primary. Sure some of these sites have multiple bloggers who support different candidates, but when the most vocal blog poster goes one way in a big way, that site gets labeled. At the end, these middle tier sites just end up driving traffic to the actual journalists who have a companion blog. Sites like National Review, Washington Post, Weekly Standard, Politico, the other good examples mentioned above, and heck even the NY Times Caucus Blog, The Hill, and many others with real standards will end up squeezing out these middle players or rendering them irrelevant; that is until they get lucky and actually get information before others. However, with newspapers, radio shows, and tv commentators finally getting around to embracing digital and blogging, that seems less likely every day.
Yes, two non-political posts in one day. What is this world coming to? Anyway, this was the original post I had in mind today except Google's demo targeting announcement preempted this post. OK, so by now you've heard if you are into SecondLife that Linden Labs has a ban on any interest or any direct return on an investment unless banks are licensed by a real-world government. Of course this was no surprise to me because there were no guarantees on your deposits which means any idiot who put their Lindens in these "banks" were surely guaranteed to lose their deposits. Here's the official Linden Labs release.
Not trying to state the obvious, but banks give you interest on your money and then turn around and invest your money hoping to get better returns on the money they are giving you. Real banks need to keep some reserve and often invest in safer investments like homes and real estate. Remember that bank run scene from It's A Wonderful Life when George Bailey tells the people looking for their money that their money is in their neighbor's homes? Here's a 21 second clip to remind you!! (FYI for your cynical folks yes the real estate market has crashed making these safe investments go bad, but that's because these banks and investment banks got greedy and "forgot" how to make safe loans and lowered or even ignored credit standards).
What were these SL banks investing in? SL real estate? Gambling? SL stores? Those don't sound like safe investments to me. That's why I never believed their promises of returns and I just sat on my Lindens.
However, I think there is a huge play for big international, real world banks in SecondLife and of course these banks are not banned. I wrote this back about a year ago in the post called First Life Companies I'd Like to See in Second Life. For little marketing costs (people, programmers, and a low interest rate like 0.5%) a bank like Bank of America could setup shop and take deposits. They could "roll" these deposits in like any other local bank or just let it sit there enjoying free marketing and PR from Second Life citizens. By the way I did see a Bank of America listing that said "hold for sponsorship"; it could be nothing or it could be an agency holding it for them.
A real life bank setting up shop in SL would be a great way to give back to the Second Life community and start to understand virtual worlds. Someone should take the plunge.
Yes - this is not a political post. I know some of you readers are excited by that. Last night Google announced that they are testing Demographic bidding in their content network and there are quite a number of features that get me reasonably excited; however, my enthusiasm is not as high as some recent changes like their new geotargeting tools. Anyway, here are the highlights:
OK, so why am I not doing cartwheels? Well it is only limited to their content network and not search. Plus, it is limited to only a few sites that look to be mostly social networking sites and quite frankly other than MySpace and Friendster (who still goes there?) I didn't recognize any of the URLs listed in their beta test. Plus, while I've grown to like Content Targeting you need to understand how it works to get a good flavor for the process of getting your ads shown, the type of inventory available, and also your ROI in content. Finally, as we've seen with their CPA bidding process, this really is just a beta and you probably won't see huge results until Google expands the site offering.
In a nut shell, I love that Google is extending their Content network process to include demo targeting. When this feature is rolled out with more inventory it will help the small budget advertisers act like a big budget marketing firm. Remember, this feature as is everything else with Google is part of the price of admission (next to nothing!!).
Think about it. With Google you can run banner ads on the internet on a cost per click basis using sophisticated demo targeting that other websites would charge premiums for their use (yes some still charge you for each targeting select you make). Not so with Google who puts the power of sophisticated marketing at the finger tips of small business marketers. Thank you Google!!
Sweet revenge on those Packers fans sitting in back of me and my family during the Giants first home game this year, cursing and making idiotic comments. We're going to the bowl and we didn't need that big mouth Tiki Barber to get there!!!
GO BIG BLUE
Those were the words from a South Carolinian who happened to have been one of my last Get Out The Vote (GOTV) calls when I asked him if he had gone to the polls on Saturday. He told me he voted for McCain and in his southern accent uttered those words which were burned into my memory right before I went into the shower to get ready for the Victory celebration.
However, my first offline GOTV experience started on January 8th during my wife's birthday dinner at Splash in Long Valley. Sensing that I was a little concerned waiting for the New Hampshire results, Becki Donatelli text messaged me and wrote "Great News. Come Down to SC". So I did arriving on Wednesday in my rented SUV after my flight from Newark Airport.
It was an unbelievable time for me. To think a person that spent 10 years in telecommunications and 5 years in the financial services industry would end up putting together political signs, waving them and planting them in Charleston SC, making important GOTV calls, and even doing a little advanced work helping Senator McCain make a historic win in South Carolina 8 years after he was stopped there in 2000 was unthinkable. I still can't believe it and I was there doing all of that important ground work. To think I started down that path during a lunch meeting with Becki and Adrienne Skinner at the Tribeca Grill in 2004.
When you win by 3% any thing you do helps and I became quite proficient at those GOTV calls. I'm not sure if it was my sexy phone voice or whether my Jersey accent scared the native South Carolinians into thinking Tony Soprano was calling them to get them to the polls. Seriously, the Charleston SC team John McCain had working for him as well as the volunteers from all over the country just did whatever was needed to do to help get our voters out there. That included standing in the rain for over 2 hours in Somerville, SC at a polling station to welcome voters 200 feet from the entrance.
Of course you know it ended with McCain's historic win in South Carolina that gives us the momentum heading into Florida (Don't pay attention to the talking heads on TV saying Romney's win in Nevada was important. Romney won 34 UNPLEDGED delegates and that's why nobody should care about that "win" at this point). I met some new friends including Carlos and Crystal from Senator McCain's Arizona office and hopefully bonded just a little more with co-workers and other McCainiacs. We partied late into the night and I outlasted people 20 years younger at the staff party in downtime Charleston. It really was an amazing event. Enjoy the photos.
Sorry about the infrequent posts, but I'm down in Charleston South Carolina doing Get Out The Vote work the McCain Campaign and that's in addition to may day job! There is tremendous energy down here and tons of volunteers. The last few days we've been making calls to supporters inviting them to a free McCain event at the USS Yorktown in SC. For the vast majority of calls we made (think +95%) the people answering the calls have all been very supportive and a pleasure to talk with which is quite a switch from when I used to monitor our outbound telemarketing calls selling AT&T wireless plans to existing AT&T LD customers. In addition to the calls we've been putting together signs, waving signs, and planting them. For a few hours we were all walking billboards.
I couldn't imagine myself doing this a few years back and this is quite amazing. You know you see the signs in your town, you've received the calls, and other tactics but you never knew who did them. Really, you can tell when a campaign has momentum when people volunteer to help with this get out the vote work.
Could we be doing some of this work on the internet? Perhaps, but remember that probably costs some money and a lot of these tactics which are time tested and effective really come down to last minute people trying to help a campaign out. Sure there are social network tactics, but we as a team have the digital world covered and now need to reach out to people in offline methods.
Some of you might be asking why? Well besides the obvious answers, I really wanted to be in South Carolina to help the campaign out. And in more ways than just running online advertising. I missed not being in New Hampshire and thought South Carolina is my chance. Believe it or not, it is and has been a blast and you really learn a lot on how retail politics still is played out in an increasingly digital world.
While reading this article found over in MediaWeek called Only Tentative Web Ad Spend During Primaries I kept thinking to myself what is the right amount to spend of your advertising budget on interactive. Before I continue with that train of thought, I want to write that the article itself is well informed. I do however get tired when people write as I myself have in the past "that candidates and their consultants are “creatures of habit” when it comes to media strategy. But, he theorized, when the brand is a living, breathing person, TV may remain preferred." While that might be true for some it is no longer the norm, however it gets to my original question which is what is the right amount to spend on online marketing?
Now before you just jump in and start shouting percentages, let me lay down the rules. First, this is a budget from scratch. You can't optimize last year's budget because in politics it might not exist. You might be a new campaign with new issues, new opponents, new followers, etc. Second, search marketing does not count. You are already planning on putting aside significant dollars on search and will maximize it. Third, there are no real case studies that tell you if you spend $X on display ads you will move Y% of voters. Fourth, free (except for campaign support) techniques like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and etc are not coming out of this budget. Finally, as shown in this now dated AdAge study (I'm sure there is an updated one but I'm too lazy to look for it), the private sector is on average putting aside 5% of their advertising dollars on the internet.
So marketing genius, how much do you allocate to online advertising? Seriously. 10%? 25%? 50%? All of it? What do you do? What is the number you would recommend and how do you justify it to the campaign manager and the candidate? What's your argument? This is the same discussion that everyone has, political or private sector. It isn't that much different except there are probably little to no benchmarks to justify your number. Do you go after the Direct Mail budget? Sure that sounds like a great idea to me, but believe it or not a certain demographic still responds to DM (you can guess the demo). How much TV do you need? I have my answers but what do you think?
Circa 2004/2005 at Harrisdirect we were running a ton of online advertising (17th largest in the US). And as most industries do, the competitors were all studying what each of us were doing with our ad budgets. It was then that I ran into an acquaintance of mine from TD Waterhouse named Stuart and he ran online advertising for TD. Stuart said to me that they were reviewing competitive advertising spends and specifically the % of offline versus Internet for the sector firms. That %, no surprise, fluctuated within an acceptable range for all the competitors except for Harrisdirect which showed a huge amount of online with little offline. He thought it was hysterical because clearly our strategy was unique. Personally, I couldn't tell him that his data was wrong and besides it helped fuel the legend of our online spending. Even in the financial sector there are "norms" for spending, but those fluctuate based on brand, strategy, tactics, target market, and etc.
So I ask you once again, wanna be political marketing consultant or marketing critic, what is the % of dollars that you would allocate towards internet advertising and why? How do you determine the % in your firm today. SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER? Why is it only "tentative" web ad spending? Why isn't the tentative spending the correct amount (it isn't and really wrong when you look at search). Here's a hint for you. Whoever wins the nomination and whoever wins the Presidency will have spent EXACTLY THE RIGHT % EVEN IT IS ZERO. You may not agree with that statement, but unfortunately it will be true.
P.S. I'm off to South Carolina to work on SC GOTV for Senator McCain's campaign. Hopefully the next few posts will be showcasing an online veteran in a retail politics world.
I read this article called A New Home Marked with Tears and Ceremony after my father tipped me off that my old Temple in Union, NJ was finally closing its doors. My old Temple with dwindling attendance is merging with one in Springfield and my old Rabbi who supervised my Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Meyer Korbman is likely retiring. While the Star Ledger listed off a few key events in the Temple's history it neglected an important record. I as a 13 year old boy held the record for the most bagels and lox eaten at one sitting - the record was 7!! (you didn't actually think I didn't have a story did you?)
You see, newly Bar Mitzvahed boys were given free admission into the Temple's Men's Club and after Sunday service (it was a Conservative Temple so I went Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until I started running Track), there was a smoked fish breakfast. You know the kind that featured assorted bagels, cream cheese, lox, herring, onions, tomatoes, and etc. So, the breakfast was included with your dues. Back then I was (kind of still am) a tremendous eater and because I was very active in sports I weighed next to nothing. To put it in perspective, 2 years later I ran track, played baseball, and trained to be a summer lifeguard. So I was skinny and could eat like a horse.
One Sunday after services, one of the members wanted to see how much I could eat. It all started when I was making my first bagel (onion bagel, lox, cream cheese on one side, butter on the other, tomato, and onion) and he didn't think I put enough cream cheese on it. So he said to me "put some cream cheese on that", so I did but that started a contest. He wanted to see how many I could eat. After the final count, I put away 7 bagels of cream cheese, butter, tomato, onion, and lox and washed it down with like a half a gallon of OJ. I walked out without a problem and went on with my day.
That night as payback my father received a call. It was the President of the Men's Club and he uttered the now famous words in the Frenchman Family. "Mr. Frenchman. I'm sorry to tell you this, but your son eats too much. Instead of a free membership into the Men's Club, we have to charge you full Men's Club dues. I'm really sorry but he eats too much." HA!
It's sad when a part of your childhood goes away, but then again I left Union a long time ago. I still eat bagels and lox every Sunday and sadly the most I can put away on an average Sunday is 2, but they are still made the same way and I always "put some cream cheese on that bagel."
I can't resist this post. I really was trying to make a non-political post today, but after having a delicious lunch in Somers, NY which included discussing politics I can't help myself. However, before the Romney bloggers come and slam me, I wrote two posts two years back under the title How To Lie with Statistics and Lie A Little More with Statistics. The basic premises behind these posts were that anyone can manipulate numbers to make them look good or bad. What makes it even funnier is that my first boss at AT&T was named Pete Huff and the author of the book How To Lie With Statistics was Huff (no relation). Anyway, back to politics.
At the recent Republican Debate in SC, Mitt Romney said "As to my record in the state of Massachusetts, I'm very proud of the fact that after many, many months of declining job growth, I took over the state and helped turn that around. And in my years as governor, we kept adding jobs every single month after we saw that turnaround." Wow, that's sounds so impressive, but it is also a little fishy.
Adding insult is this paragraph found on Mitt Romney's bio page on his website: "At the beginning of Governor Romney's term, Massachusetts was losing thousands of jobs every month. By the time he left office, the unemployment rate was lower, hundreds of companies had expanded or moved to Massachusetts and the state had added approximately 60,000 jobs from the low point of the recession."
Now Factcheck.org wrote "that's not true" and you can hit this link for their analysis of Romney's untruths. However, I wasn't satisfied with the link and I was hoping to find something else that Mitt really meant by his statement. I mean, Mitt Romney really wouldn't just offer up a total lie on national TV would he? So, I went to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found this detailed report on Mitt Romney's time as Governor of Massachusetts (January 2003 - January 4 2007).
Let's look at his "job growth claims" using this chart that I copied from the Bureau and added in dates of Romney's role as Governor and a color code of red meaning job loss and green meaning job growth.
The chart says it all which is "nothing is ever what it seems" and when someone makes an absolute boast, you should definitely check those numbers. Claim #1 is really wrong if you don't catch his caveat which is "after we saw that turnaround". Unfortunately, the bottom came during Governor Romney's watch and the turn around didn't really occur until mid-point through his tenure (even though I gave him a green in 2004, it really was flat). So for the first two years it was negative and flat and then the last two years Mass. had job growth. However, that job growth still hasn't hit their peak employment that was seen in January 2001.
This analysis proves once again that you can spin numbers anyway you want. At the end of the day you are always better off looking for the facts yourself online. If you did besides these numbers you might have not only found the data I saw, you would have found this article from the Boston Globe with this nifty quote: "Our analysis reveals a weak comparative economic performance of the state over the Romney years, one of the worst in the country."
Within the same day (today) I received two calls from Rachel from Cardholder Services. One on my business line and one on my home line. The one on my business line I ignored but my home line has been on the national do not call list from Day 1. So, I'm not sure how they legally got my number. I got so annoyed from getting out of my chair, I pressed one to yell at the rep on the end of the line.
As a person that used outbound telemarketing while at AT&T, I usually have sympathy for call reps, but not this guy. They have to know they must be breaking a Do Not Call law since I'm pretty sure I don't have a relationship with Cardholder Services and my number is on the list. Plus, the way the call came through on my CID as Private Number is also fishy and I wonder if that is breaking the law. Hitting one means that the telemarketing company got paid by Card holder Services whomever they are.
Personally, I smell a scam. They pitch an offer to lower my rates but not saying which card it is. The Private Number looks fishy as is the unknown company. The rep didn't get a chance to tell me more, because I was rude. My suggestion is to beware of Cardholder Services.
Well it is about time Senator. Welcome to Google Paid Search Ads!! Glad you finally figured out that search marketing is a great opportunity instead of just a few tests. One question. What took you so long? (I actually have an idea...) Just a reminder, McCain rules in paid search :-)
On such a great day in Politics I had the non-pleasure to have someone forward me this article in MediaWeek called Dems, Reps Fall Short on Search. Reading the article it is clear that SendTec and Janel Landis have no concept on how to look for search ads, what works in search politics, and they didn't bother to even research articles that have been written by more reputable publications and companies like:
What gets me so fired up is when so called "search experts" run a few queries at a couple of times and then draw a conclusion that says "these guys don't get search". That's just wrong. If you don't see us running ads on certain words it is because they a) don't perform b) too expensive or c) doesn't make sense.
Come on people, you have to try harder than this and too assume that real search marketing isn't occurring because political campaigns don't get it is wrong. Perhaps before someone publishes an article on what the Presidential campaigns are not doing, they should try using search to find articles that have already been published that proves they are wrong. Sheesh - SendTec definitely needs search help.
I'm getting a ton of calls and emails. It isn't easy waiting to see the results. I keep checking on our search and advertising campaigns and was much busier with our New Hampshire plans yesterday.
I've written before in the past about having the intestinal fortitude to work in politics. Election day is really the only deadline that exists in marketing. Win, lose, or draw it is over and history was made. Sure in the Primaries you can move on, but you carry the past elections with you.
The closest I've ever come to this feeling was walking into Harrisdirect the morning the E*Trade announcement was made. I had worked with a small team of folks to make press releases, change the website, and send out emails. When I left at about 2AM the night before to get some sleep, I had no idea how it would turn out. All I knew at the time was that today would be different.
Yes - don't ask me if I'm fired up. I'm doing whatever I can in the small part I play and that means our search marketing and banner ads. In case you are wondering, I have McCain's Google AdWords account constantly up so I can make adjustments.
I saw this article in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal called Bye Bye Light Bulb and it got me thinking about AT&T's TrueVoice "product". Basically the article says how lucky manufacturers like GE and Phillips are that the US Government passed a law to outlaw the old version of the light bulb in favor of energy saver versions by 2012/2014. These new bulbs already available on the market costs $3 instead of the 50 cents for the old ones, but theoretically save you money in electrical bills. According to the article:
"Yes, the $3 bulb lasts longer. Yes, it cuts your electricity bill. Mr. Moorehead says that when every one of those four billion light sockets has an energy-saving bulb in it, the country will be saving $18 billion a year on its electric bill. That's $4.50 per bulb -- and the bulb makers are standing by to make sure a substantial portion of those "savings" get transformed into profits for them."
Wow isn't that convenient. A product that nobody wants (5% market share) convinces the government of passing a new law and wham, you have instant product sales. Now, the problem (and the link to TrueVoice) is that their selling proposition is that these new bulbs will help you save money on your electrical bill. Pay more upfront for future savings, but if the savings was so good why aren't the sales there now? Perhaps the American public doesn't want to pay for phantom product results. Now to AT&T TrueVoice.
When I first came over to the marketing side at AT&T they were promoting TrueVoice. TrueVoice which as I recall was being promoted by a new AT&T Marketing VP Dan Clarke as producing better call quality from your home phone. This call quality proved by Bell Labs would allow AT&T to charge more money for a long distance call. Problem was customers didn't think their home call quality was bad and when compared with the competition MCI and Sprint (remember them) the difference wasn't discernible. Sure Bell Labs could prove it, but people just didn't care. And, AT&T stopped promoting it because it didn't make a difference.
Unlike the light bulb guys, AT&T couldn't have the government mandate acceptable call quality. Think about it. Companies that have products that you just buy and are tough to differentiate (milk, light bulbs, pencils, coffee filters, home phone service) just need to somehow convince the government that it is to the American people's benefit to own their new product instead of the old one. Think Organic Milk industry. Having the US Government speak up on an industry's sales woes is a true voice that anyone can hear a difference in.
A lot of people emailed me and called me tonight to see what I thought about the Iowa results. So here we go. Huckabee won but more importantly Romney got beaten badly. McCain as I write this is in third place and considering that a lot of people and pundits thought he wouldn't do well there I think the media (real bloggers and main stream news) will spin that as good news. Romney is wounded going into New Hampshire where the trend looks bad. However, it is on to New Hampshire for McCain 2008 where we are doing an unbelievable amount of work there, including online. Paul is where he will finish, far outside of the race; I wonder how long it will be until he drops out and goes Libertarian? I wasn't surprised by Hillary losing Iowa, but coming in third there is a blow to her campaign. Anyway, here's the email from the McCain 2008 campaign and video from the Senator.
U.S. Senator John McCain today
issued the following statement regarding the results of the Iowa Caucus:
I thank each and every Iowan who braved the cold to caucus tonight, as well as my tremendous staff and leadership for all of their hard work over the past year. They worked wonders with far fewer resources than their competitors. I also congratulate Governor Huckabee on his victory tonight.
Now the campaign turns to New Hampshire for the first-in-the-nation primary. As voters know best, I will continue to deliver straight talk about the critical issues facing our country. I will talk about the unique experience that prepares me to lead as commander in chief from day one, and makes me the only Republican who can win the White House in 2008. We started this together, New Hampshire, eight years ago. In five days, we're going to send the same message we did then: change is coming.
So while watching the Iowa results on CNN and Politico.com I couldn't help but think about TV ads and of course negative campaign ads. Is the 30 second political TV ad dead? Can you still use traditional marketing to win an election? Do negative ads work?
Mitt Romney spent millions and millions of dollars on TV ads in Iowa but it turned out to be a poor investment. I know some of you are cynical but if you outspend your opponent by a ton and lose an election it was a poor investment, period. The trend in Iowa showed Romney leading for a long time and then Huckabee coming out of almost nowhere to close on the win.
So what was the playbook that Romney used? He went negative with his TV ads when he saw the trend. At one point according to Politico he was running 1000s of GRPs to push his message with Huckabee spending what he could, but at a much reduced rate. Huckabee even went so far as to prepare a negative ad to counter Romney's negativity, called a press conference to show it, and then changed his mind to say he won't run it because he was tired of negativity. A lot of people ridiculed Huckabee for it. Me? I just thought it was part of his charm that helped carry him to a win in Iowa. BTW - he did continue to run this ad, but I didn't spend enough time trying to figure out whether it was shipped and couldn't get removed or he just changed his mind.
According to an article on Townhall, Romney will continue running his negative TV ads and we are already experiencing them in NH. Why? Because he believes they will work. Romney believes that the ads are contrast ads, but when a contrast ad doesn't contain truths isn't that the same as a negative ad? That really was a question, but see this link from Factcheck.org to make your own decision. I have mine.
What does Huckabee's win in Iowa say about political marketing? A lot and a little. From my 2 years of experience, political victories are still won via retail politics. Going door to door, kissing babies, getting signatures, and putting up signs (yes we all hate them when they come to town). Staying on message, resonating with voters, and bringing your opinions and experience are of course extremely important -always has been.
TV ads still can move numbers. Huckabee ran them, albeit at much lower levels than Romney. However, the internet plays a strong role. Huckabee's website traffic numbers (see chart below) were a leading indicator of his increasing popularity.
My personal observations in the political blogosphere (for another post, but it is just downright disgusting) shows that there are tons of reasons to have an internet strategy. And of course there is search marketing and online advertising. (BTW - as shown with my previous post, Romney spent the most in online advertising and we already know who has the most efficient search marketing - McCain.) A modern political campaign can't just rely on pounding the airwaves any more with negative ads. You need to resonate with voters, mobilize your base of support, raise money, advertise - off and online, and then get your people to the polls. All aspects of your marketing campaigns come into play; politics 2008 is just no longer about who can run the most TV ads.
Kate Kaye over at ClickZ gave a good summary of the Presidential Campaigns' use of online advertising for their quests for the nomination in the post called Romney, McCain, Obama Dominate Presidential Display Ads This Year. From what I know of Nielsen Net Ratings, Kate's analysis for the most part excludes search and probably a fair chunk of Google's content network, but it provides a great synopsis. Before I jump in with why online advertising is the great equalizer, here are the highlights for me from Kate's story:
The numbers that Kate published reminded me of my long standing Harrisdirect media buy which right before E*trade acquired us was ranked as the 17th largest US advertiser. Our motto at HD was do more with less money because we certainly couldn't outspend Schwab and Ameritrade. And that's what makes online advertising so powerful - it is the great equalizer.
If you can't (or won't) outspend your competition (see Romney or Schwab), you can be smarter than they are when it comes to how you do your ad buy and where. Anyone can come up with great creative and it doesn't necessarily mean that the advertiser with the biggest pocket book gets the best creative. That was certainly not the case at Harrisdirect where Grey Interactive led by my favorite account person Joan Zulawski delivered really beautiful ads. Jason, Justin, and Ryan that work on the McCain creatives deliver the best ads out of any of the Presidential campaigns.
We at McCain and of course at Harrisdirect have better media buys and better search advertising than all others. That's because we have a ton of experience, understand optimization and targeting, and of course have the best product to sell - John McCain. Advertising online is the great equalizer. All you need to do is jump in and start working your creative and optimization magic.
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