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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Online Politics...

Over 50 percent of online consumers visited a political oriented website in 2005, according to comScore Media Metrix. The growth in utilization of the internet for researching personal and political issues and selecting candidates grew by over 5x versus the prior two year moving average. With over 2.5B dollars spent on political advertising last year and less than one percent of that spending occurring online, the stage is set for a revolution to a new media.

Interactive media brings abundant and valuable tools for political advertising campaigns. From targeted local advertising to precision media buys, candidates who utilize a genuine web based marketing strategy will gain a true upper hand against each and every opponent. All political segments that leverage the power of the internet will have tools and services that rival those of Fortune 100 companies. Because the interactive channel is far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, there is a rapid rush towards the technology.

Additionally, the web is a very powerful tool for customer engagement, such as raising awareness, getting out the vote, and increasing donations. The 2004 presidential election saw an increase in the number of overall monetary donations with a large number of first-time donors contributing online. A report authored jointly by The George Washington University's Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet (IPDI) and the Campaign Finance Institute observes a shift to online donations from the 18 to 34 year-old demographic. Over 80 percent in that cohort donated online with a credit or debit card. Sixty-seven percent of people aged 35 to 50 donated online at least once, and about one-fourth of the over-65 group made online political contributions.

With such a powerful tool at the disposal of the political parties, it is not a question of when but who will win the race online. To beat the competition there is a big hurdle that needs to be overcome. With the extreme fragmentation online it is very difficult today for a political campaign or local candidate to effectively buy and manage online media. Though the targeting is available and the online channel is very cost effective, the interface to buy targeted ads does not exist today. Even at the national levels, the campaigns and their agencies continue to struggle with effective methods to find and buy advertising on websites that fit their target audience or message. There is no central network for the campaigns and/or issue brokers to get the word out.

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