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:
- Romney and our John McCain campaign accounted for 70% of all online ads bought this year. Throw in Obama's ad buy and you have almost 99% of all ads bought this year.
- The rest don't count because their ad buys were so small. Pretty much any impressions under 1 million means that it is just a rounding error in their campaign spending and really counts for nothing. Tancredo had a one day buy on Drudge which accounted for his impressions; personally I think Drudge is a terrible place to buy unless you like automatic page refreshed or you need to target inside the beltway. Clinton continues to ignore online advertising, but personally I think they are just waiting until the general. Thompson and Edwards ads are from their blog advertising but probably didn't amount to much for them because they haven't extended beyond.
- According to Kate, Yahoo is cleaning up in the display ads space which is good news for my friend Richard Kosinski who runs politics for Yahoo. While I've been critical of Yahoo's search I've always been a fan of their display ads capabilities and with new tools like BlueLithium and RightMedia they are my favorite stop.
- Kate reminded everyone that Romney ran on alternative lifestyle websites which as a veteran of buying ads for almost 10 years made me laugh. On the one hand, that happens when you buy on networks, but on the other hand McCain didn't end up on those sites so there is no substitute for experience in buying on networks (yes I have techniques that minimize problem sites).
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.