Thursday New Tools Feature: Obama Finds Search Works

A recent post from Personal Democracy Forum reports that the Obama campaign found online search ads had

a "ridiculously" high Return On Investment as a list-builder. Joe Rospars talked significantly more at a second NOI-sponsored event last month, divulging that search and contextual ads (Google Ads) were the backbone of the campaign's online advertising outreach, and that a relatively straightforward strategy had been steadily and consistently effective...when compared with the cost of acquiring supporters via other channels, search advertising absolutely shone, with an ROI Rospars described as approaching 15:1.

searchThe Obama campaign, recognizing the power of search ads, spent a much larger percentage of their budget on them than the McCain campaign did; the Obama campaign spent about $8 million on search ads in 2008, compared to the McCain campaign's $1.5 million. To put that $8 million in perspective, it is reported to account for nearly half of all political search ad money for the year.

Given the Obama campaign's solid grasp of new media tools, their emphasis on search ads is not surprising. Nor are the results - NDN and the New Politics Institute have been pushing the use of online search ads for years now precisely because they are so inexpensive relative to their impact. For tips on how to use online search ads effectively, check out our excellent papers, Use Search and Advertise Online, or watch the video below of Google's Peter Greenberger speaking at one of our NPI events. Of course, not everyone will get the kind of return that the Obama campaign did - few people have been searched more in the last two years than Barack Obama. But as people get more and more accustomed to using Google whenever they need information about anything, search ads become more and more effective.

Finally, to learn about other great ways to improve your advocacy or campaign, be sure to drop by our NDN / NPI event, "New Tools for a New Era," this coming Tuesday, where we'll look at new advances in social networking, microtargeting, and web video. Anyone interested in technology and politics is guaranteed to geek out, and we'll be debuting a few new toys of our own; stay tuned for more info.