Elections traditionally have been largely won by which side can afford the most mass advertising. For decades, television has been the most crucial place to advertise — in the US, it’s been up to $125 million combined. In the UK, the 2010 election was “upset” by the television debates (there were televised debates for the first time that year).
However, Google is urging political candidates to consider how important online advertising will be.
Below is a Google produced infographic that shows how people’s media consumption is changing — away from television to tablets, mobile phones and PCs. They call this the “Four Screens to Victory” initiative.
The first step in winning a campaign, says Google, is building an organization — the people who will help you get to the school board, the White House or anywhere in-between. And when your potential supporters are looking for more information about you, what do they do? Search, of course.
Good SEO can help people find your website, but Google’s trying to encourage candidates to purchase search ads to ensure they find the right person. After all, natural search results can bury a candidate — imagine if somebody named “George Bush” or “Justin Bieber” was running for mayor of a small town, for example.
Search ads, says Google, can point people in the right direction and can be targeted locally — helping that hypothetical other George Bush get noticed by his neighbors. Then it’s up to him to get them ringing phones and knocking on doorbells.
YouTube has a part to play in all this as well, says Google. It lets campaigns “respond to a breaking story by posting a new video, available across any device, in a matter of minutes.”
Why should campaigns bother with all of this? Especially if they can afford television ads?
Simply, Google argues, because of engagement.
Because these ads can be targeted to the right people at the right time, you’re not paying for a massive audience that is really uninterested or actively hostile to your message.
What do you think of Google’s political campaigning advice?