Does political blog advertising work?
Friday, January 30th, 2004
Jerome Armstrong , who handled the Dean Blogads purchases, had an interesting comment in today’s Online Journalism Review. “Campaigns are not evolutionary models. They’re what works now and will get us through the next election. Institutional memory skips every four years, so there’s a lag time on innovation. As far as big purchases that really make an impact — we’re not there. We’re able to push the envelope to do some of this, but I don’t have nearly the resources as the people doing television ads.” I definitely got this sense from talking to Jerome when he was buying Blogads for Dean.
Well, I guess maybe the innovation is going to happen in the Congressional races, where the campaign is perpetual. A couple of days ago, I heard from Mark Nickolas, campaign manager for Democrat Ben Chandler, who is running for Congress in Kentucky in a special election. Impressed by the political heat blogs are throwing off, Nickolas had decided to divert some cash from radio spots to blog advertising. After we talked, he bumped his blogad budget up 40%. His aim was to learn something, and hopefully cover the cost of his campaign.
The ads started running Friday. That afternoon, heard from Nickolas. Nickolas said the campaign had already covered the cost of the ad buy. At that point, the ad is not yet even running on 1/3 of the buy. Earlier today the campaign treasurer called Nickolas on his mobile, saying “Get in here. We must have some kind of bug. We’ve gotten 5 online contributions in the last three minutes ending in 18 cents.” After a little poking around, Nickolas figured out that the gush of $X.18 was coming from Atrios’ post suggesting that if his readers gave, they should tack on 18 cents so the contributions were identifiable.
I asked Nickolas if this information could be repeated by e-mail or blog and he said, “sure, we’re thrilled.”