Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Web Politics

According to the article “Political Candidates Stick to Traditional Media” published in MediaWeek, political candidates from both parties are demonstrating a stubborn devotion to traditional media, along with a cautious streak that is holding them back from truly embracing the Web as an outlet for political ad dollars. Even though Americans’ media habits are rapidly changing a group of panelists that spoke during the Mixx Conference predict that most spending will remain on TV and other tried and true outlets. Richard Kosinsi, vp of political advertising estimated that most candidates were planning to spend around one percent of their total media budgets online, versus the seven percent that most mainstream brands typically spend on the medium:

When it comes to paid media, candidates are about seven years behind. While many candidates have embraced social media platforms such as MySpace, Facebook and YouTube to state their case to the online audience, (where they often don’t have to spend a dime) when it comes to true advertising they are not quite there yet.

According to Rob Shepardson, founding partner of the agency SS+K, who helped advise Senator Barack Obama’s campaign:

Most candidates consider the Web an excellent place to fundraise and to engage activists, but aren’t convinced about its effectiveness in persuading voters. That’s still where the question is. It’s about getting people out on a cold night in Iowa...that’s the biggest challenge.

According to the article, those holding the decision power for candidates’ media campaigns too often rely on what they’ve done in the past, whether it worked or not:

What we are seeing in this the dominance of political game by the same consultant. This is the only profession where you lose again and again and get rehired.

On a positive note, the article offers a flicker of hope for those looking for political spending on the Web:

We’re still early in the race. Right now, candidates are still in raise and save mode. That could change as the fields thin out and TV inventory potentially gets tighter next year.

I sure hope that political candidates turn to the Web. While I would hate to get political SPAM on Facebook I would have to question candidates that don’t use it as an avenue to reach voters. Especially when trying to reach a younger, technologically savvy generation. Web advertising is advertising for the new generation and by ignoring such an avenue it sends the message that political candidates don’t care about the new generation and don’t want to waist their monetary funds on them, which is a big mistake.

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