Introducing Tech Thursdays: A Look At The Changing World Of Online Politics

ClickZ has praised Meg Whitman’s online-ad buy of $3 million, the largest buy in political history, she even outspent the Democratic National Convention’s nationwide online ad spend of roughly $2.5 million, but what the article hardly touches on is how small of an amount that actually was, especially for the former CEO of eBay to spend on digital advertising.

For the past year, Google’s political team has been promoting a concept of 10 in 2010, a goal to get campaigns to spend 10% of a campaign’s budget in online advertising for the 2010 election cycle. In reality, campaigns were spending under 5% according to a panel discussion hosted by Politico and Facebook. Meg Whitman’s $3 million online spend accounted for about 1.8% of her roughly $170 million budget, far less than the hoped for 10%.

Why is this important? Why am I talking about this on Fights for Jobs? Let me ask you this, how many of you spend your time reading the newspaper as opposed to NYTimes.com? The Pew Research Center reported in 2009 that 70% of adult Americans find news online and that 55% went online to get involved in the political process in 2008. When was the last time you did not fast-forward through TV advertising? Roughly 90% of those who can TiVo through commercials, do. We recognize that there is a fundamental shift in the way all of us find information, consume media, research politics, and generally live our lives.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that, “Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change,” likewise, we do not fear political change, even in the midst of elections. While most political candidates were spending barely 5% of their budgets in online advertising, we embraced the coming change and put approximately 55% of our budget into online advertising. We placed online ads with Google, YouTube, Hulu, Yahoo!, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn to support candidates who were committed to fighting for jobs in the 112th Congress, resulting in over 300 million web impressions.

We believe in reaching out to Americans and communicating with them where they want instead of throwing money at a TV commercial that will most likely not be watched.  Using online communication as our main tool, we were able to help 75% of our supported candidates, all of whom were non-incumbents, win their races in order to help continue the fight to keep jobs as the top priority.

This new column on Fights for Jobs will focus on the role and use of technology in politics. These posts will range from discussing our tactics in the last election, like our purchase of the Election Day masthead ad on YouTube.com, to pointing out innovative ways technology is being used to advocate for different pieces of legislation. Stay tuned and if you like what you read then make sure you subscribe.

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