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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Online Political Engagement

There has been an online revolution of sorts this year in the political world. A daily visit to my favorite site Digg reminds me daily of the Ron Paul Revolution. I actually like a lot of what Ron Paul talks about and really wish he had more of a chance, but he at least reminds us that you can challenge traditional thinking.

So I was running my regular Media Metrix reports for the month and I took a look at the Politics category, given this is the topic of the month in our household. When I ran the metrics on the candidate websites, I was actually amazed at the level of engagement by some of the candidate’s online users.

First of all, if you look at the total minutes spent on all the candidates’ websites, from the online US population in the month of January, 24% of total time was spent on Ron Paul’s website, which was second only to Obama’s 28%.

This is amazing. Time spent on a website is a great measure of engagement and loyalty. The share of time spent across all the sites would lead you to the conclusion that the candidates with the most spent on their site have the highest potential for success.

When you see Obama’s numbers, this is true. But Ron Paul is an amazing story. Though he draws almost a quarter of the total time in the category, he only reaches less than 10% of the total users in this category, and only 5% of the total politics category. This is really an amazing data point as it tells you that not only does Ron Paul engage with his users, but their engagement is 2-3x the average, and in the cases of pages visited on the site, it is 5x or more.

Marketers and publishers online would love the opportunity to engage and interact with their customers and users the way Ron Paul has been able to do so. Agencies are paying billions of dollars online every year to create trust and a brand of conviction that people will interact with their precious time and energy.

Obama seems to draw a very loyal group of users, and this story alone would be interesting to discuss at your next cocktail party, but this year there is something even more compelling. I guess it is called the Ron Paul Revolution.

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