Display vs. Text Ads

Which one is more effective?

Obama focused heavily on display ads while McCain invested more into search engine ads.

The display ads received 91, 740 ad views per month from Jan 2008-June 2008, while McCain’s search engine ads received 7,435 views per month during that same period.

The McCain campaign stated that they used text search ad in order to reach more fragmented audiences. In fact, the McCain campaign held a pretty aggressive text ad campaign. The McCain campaign outbid the Obama campaign on certain Obama keywords. For example, when someone search for “Joe Biden”, a sponsored link would pop up that would direct someone to the McCain website.  The McCain campaign also bought the keyword “Barrack Hussein Obama”.

An example of a McCain search-based ad

An example of a McCain search-based ad

A spokesperson from the Obama campaign stated that the campaign valued both types of ads but explained why they used search-based ads less.

“Thanks to our millions of online supporters who frequently visit our website and other social networking sites, unlike other campaigns, BarackObama.com already has extremely high organic search-engine rankings, which helps us limit the number of terms where we need to use paid advertising to have a presence. ”

An example of a display ad paid for by the Obama campaign.

An example of a display ad paid for by the Obama campaign.

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Video Game Advertising


The Obama ad featured on, "Burnout Paradise", an online game on Xbox 360.

So those of you who decided to turn off the cable and escape from all of those political ads may have found that there is no escaping!

The Obama campaign bought a political ad to be put in an
Xbox online racing game, Burnout Paradise, in 2008.

The game’s maker, Electronic Arts (EA), accepts advertising
from credible political candidates.

The ads appeared in nine other video games as well, including the popular “Madden 09”.  The ads were shown to gamers in ten swing states across the nation.

The video game campaign, which ran from Oct 6- Nov 3., cost the Obama campaign about $44,000.

This is not the only time that a candidate has taken advantage of advertising in video games. Former Virgina Governor, Mark Warner made an appearance  at a press conference in the online game “Second Life.”


A screenshot of the McCain application on Facebook.

The Republican candidate, opted out of the online game advertsing, but he did create a game, Pork Invaders, on his facebook page, which is meant to symbolize his opposition to “pork barrel spending”, a term used for the earmarking of funds for random projects that most deem unncessary.

The DNC’s use of text-messaging

The Obama campaign used text messaging for
the first timeObama Networkfor the announcement of his VP-pick.
Those who were interested were given the option to sign up to receive a text message announcing the VP pick when it was made.

2.9 million people received the text, even though the pick was announced before the text was sent out by mainstream media.

The twenty-six word message still ranks as one of the single largest marketing events in the U.S.

This was a strategy to test the effectiveness of text messaging as well as a way for the DNC to collect phone numbers in their “get out the vote” campaigns.

The text messaging tool was used once again at the Democration National Convention. Those inside Invesco field were asked “What led you to the campaign for change”.  The question was displayed on jumbo video screens with a number to text responses to. 


The DNC partnered with AT&T for this promotion.  AT&T was able to provide the DNC with information regarding the origins of the text messages.  The results were then displayed on the jumbo screens.

The information given by AT&T allows the DNC to send information to local organizers to later contact these individuals regarding volunteer, local events and get out the vote opportunities.

The information given by AT&T allows the DNC to send information to local organizers to later contact these individuals regarding volunteer, local events and get out the vote opportunities.

A research study by Nielsen mobile found that 60% of U.S. mobile subscribers use text messaging on a regular basis. Another study by Nielsen found that one in six of these subscribers carry their phone wherever they go.  Although some advertisers have caught on to this tool, just 16% of those surveyed said they have received a form of advertising through text message.

With the success and creativity expressed in campaigns such as the past presidential election, text messaging may prove to be an effective tool in advertising. Is text message advertising here to stay?  Let me know what you think!

Promotion through Negative Ads?

Just when we thought the negative ads ended with the election, the DNC has released a controversial video highlighting the Republican Party.

The short 30 second web ad has received angry feedback from the Republican party.  How effective is this form of promotion?

Many television ads compare themselves to the competitor but this one seems to want to completely bash the competitor.  The ads were made possible by the DNC’s Rapid Response Team that is responsible of fighting smears by taking action against them and by sharing information about the Republican Party. There are several more Web Ads on the Rapid Response Team’s YouTube Account.

The YouTube Account also featured news coverage from major networks that covered the DNC’s unveiling of their anti-Rush Limbaugh billboard, which was another digital promotion technique that I reported on in an earlier blog.

What are your thoughts on the ads?  Are they effective?  The views of the web ads on YouTube range from a few hundred views of recent videos to over a million views for videos posted during the election.

These videos may have beens slightly effective during the election but what are the effects now? Are they changing anyone’s mind?  Do people really want to sit at their computer and watch nasty ads after having to hear “I am _______ and I support this message” over and over again in the past election cycle?

Who is Jonah Goodman?

The man behind the DNC’s Web image. And looking through his portfolio gives a glimpse into how diverse and creative digital promotion can be.

His duties included:
– regulary updating websites with relevant information during a constantly changing news cycle
– implementing a  complete redesign of website after primaries

Below are examples of his work and multiple ways of promoting the Democratic National Committee during the 2008 election including a splash page, a microsite and an example of offline promotion.


A splash page designed after the 2008 presidential election

A splash page used to promote projects and initiatives that the DNC was involved with.

A micro site used to promote projects and initiatives that the DNC was involved with.

An example of offline promotion: Print flyer that encourages participants to RSVP online.

An example of offline promotion: A print flyer that encourages participants to RSVP online.


My.BarackObama.com: Social Networking At Its Best

My.BarackObama.com MyBO.com not only solicits political support but also encourages people to respond to other issue such as victims of Hurricane Katrina. allows
users to find local events and groups, contact local voters about important issues and share stories using their very own blog.

The website also incorporates other social networking sites.  Users can link their Facebook account to the website to recruit their friends to join the site also. It allows users to share the updates on the account with their Facebook friends.

The site is created and powered by Blue State Digital, an agency that offers technical as well as strategic help for online campaigns.

My.BarackObama.com consisted of 70, 000 personal fundraising pages that raised over $30 million.   Members also were able to receive e-mails from campaign organizers. The organizers were able to target and craft different emails for different groups of people based on how much they had donated and raised.

The creators of the site have also included YouTube in the website by including videos such as this tutorial below.  In the course of the campaign, users of My.BarackObama.com spent 14 million hours watching over 1,800 Obama campaign-related videos on YouTube.

The Obama internet team was easily able to track usage on the website and easily control the look and feel of landing pages, create new campaigns and manage community content with the tools offered by Blue State Digital.

The easy to use functions for both the creators and users greatly contributed to the efficiency of the campaign.

The site still remains very active after the election because of the continued participation of its users. Below is an upcoming event at New Belgium Brewery titled, “New Ideas at New Belgium”.

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The Power of YouTube

No campaign before Barack Obama’s has been so innovative in using the internet to reach out to voters. The current increase in involvement of younger voters was successful largely because of social networking sites such as YouTube.

Barack Obama’s YouTube account has 168, 685 subscribers. The channel includes a variety of public appearances by the President and first Lady as well as videos of the campaign trail.  Barack Obama has also replaced the weekly radio address with the weekly video address via YouTube.

Although the President’s YouTube Channel manages to reach a variety of audiences, the majority seems to reach the younger population.

The video below is the most viewed video on Barack Obama’s YouTube Channel with over seven million views.

To enhance the ability to promote using online videos,  YouTube released a new tool for online promoters called YouTube Insight last year. This is a tool that tracks what days your viewers tuned in, where they are located and how long they watched, among many other functions that allow advertisers and public relations agents to improve their campaigns.

You can find the function by going to My Account> Videos, Favorites, Playlists > Manage my Videos.

Below is a short video describing the Insight Tool.

YouTube also has a sponsored videos option that works very similar to Google Adwords. Advertisers can bid on keywords and have their video show up in search results. The sponsored ads show up on the right hand side, similar to the placement of ads in Google Adwords.

Like Google Adwords, advertisers are able to set daily budgets and they only pay-per-click and there is no cost for the ad just being displayed in search results. Advertisers can benefit because although users may not click on the video, they may decide to later visit the advertiser’s website after seeing the video displayed in search results.