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$2 Billion In Political Ads Hoping to Sway 800,000 Voters

There are an estimated 800,000 swing state voters who enter election season undecided, and the two presidential campaigns will spend $2 billion in TV advertising hoping to persuade them. But according to U Penn political scientist Diana Mutz, who spoke to NPR,

“There’s very little evidence that ads make much of a difference in a presidential campaign.”

For you optimists out there who had hoped the ginormous injection of corporate money into American politics made possible by Citizens United would improve our democracy, this is terrible news. However, if you believe that stimulus spending during a recession might create jobs, yet you’d rather avoid bloating federal spending further with another stimulus program, modern presidential elections might be just be the winning ticket. We should have one every year until the Koch brothers help get us all back to work — selling TV ads, if we must.

UPDATE 10/30/12: Turns out social-media excitement doesn’t have much real political effect either.

Federated Media’s CM Summit 2012: ChasNote Round Up

Battelle kicked off the annual Conversational Marketing Summit by interviewing Barry Diller, who delighted the CM Summit’s digital-evangelist crowd with remarks such as “magazines like Newsweek won’t survive another five years as print publications.” Then he summed up the divide between the big media companies and Silicon Valley as follows: “Talking to a TV network exec about tech is like talking to a plumber about bio-physics.” But tech adoption aside, he said, the cable and broadcast networks beat the pants off the internet when it comes to reliably delivering high-quality content, which is one of the chief reasons that advertisers love to spend on TV.

FM’s Joe Frydl presented the Law of Content on the Web: “The value of content on web is directly proportional to number of connections is starts or sustains.” Where digital marketing goes wrong, he said, is that — for all the targeting tools — it doesn’t understand context, and as a result it’s “tone deaf.”

LUMA Partners’s Terence Kawaja blinded the audience with a handful of new LUMAScapes, those logo mosaics that show the complicated ecosystem of startups, agencies, networks and exchanges all fighting for parts of the digital advertising dollar, and proposed a standard OS for online advertising. From Ki Mae Heussner’s post on GigaOM:

While the industry wouldn’t want to quash the innovation, he floated the idea of addressing what he called the ‘rationalization’ issue through standardization. Just like mobile technology has its Android and iOS platforms, Kawaja said, digital advertising could have its own operating system. “Many other industries have benefited greatly by having an operating system, a common platform upon which other companies can build their tools,” he said.

Everyone loves an easy-to-use platform, it seems. By 2015, he forecast, ads bought via real-time bidding platforms (RTB) will represent 25% of all online display spending.

“Too many brands still think writing a big check to Facebook means you have a social strategy,” quipped Mediavest digital chief Amanda Richmond. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, news broke that one of her agency’s biggest clients, GM, has canceled its $10 million ad contract with Facebook, three days before the social network’s IPO. The big-check-to-Facebook strategy isn’t working for GM, apparently. (To which I say, that’s preposterous.)

The industry loves data (“consumer insights are the new black,” she said), and the ability to precisely target consumers based on that data. But while we’ve become good at precision ad delivery, “we also need to know what story to tell them.” We’re falling short on the creative side. (Related: Digiday polls some industry folks, including me, to ruminate on the flaws and virtues of the banner ad.)

And then from Luminate’s Bob Lisbonne (my boss): Welcome to the Imagesphere. In the Kodak Era we took pictures on birthdays and vacations. Now, with a camera in nearly everyone’s pocket there is a whole new dynamic around image content. Ten percent of the photos every taken by humankind were taken in the past 12 months (1000Memories). That’s Phase I of the Kodak-to-Imagephere migration: A massive increase on photo creation. Phase II: New platforms for sharing those images (especially Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr) have turned photos into the universal language for communicating in social media. What’s next? Phase III, Bob argued, will turn those static images into interactive experiences. The popularity of Pinterest, from anonymity to the third largest social network in a few short months, is one example. Luminate’s image apps, which are used by more than 100 million consumers, are another.

Sarah Bernard, social media director for the White House, seemed to support Bob’s theory that images are where it’s at. When asked what she’s learned from using social media for direct democracy, she joked that the best way to engage the citizenry about tax code would be to sneak in some fiscal policy on a photoblog dedicated to Bo the dog.

A few more of my favorite soundbites:

Did Pepsi Steal Obama's Logo?

Is it just me or does Pepsi’s new logo look a lot like Obama’s?

Obama’s logo:

Obama's Logo

Pepsi’s logo:

Pepsi Logo


UPDATE 7:20 ET: Apparently I’m very, very late to notice this! See this Slate article.

Obama's Digg-style Platform for Civic Participation

The Obama crew is using social media tools for much more than winning an election. Check out Obama CTO.

Obama CTO

Internet Killed Karl Rove Politics

Dan Farber’s Tweets from Web 2.0 Summit’s politics panel.

Arianna Huffington on Obama and Internet

Trippi on ad-value of election YouTube videos

Obama the Marketing Guru

Some pundits viewed as extravagant Obama’s $5MM spend to buy 30-minute slots across 7 networks last Wednesday. Heck, you could blow that for two Superbowl spots — 60 seconds — in front of a very large but mainly intoxicated audience. Meanwhile nearly 34 million of us watched the long-form Obama commercial, 70% more than those who tuned in to the final game of the World Series. I agree with my colleague James Gross, that this is yet more evidence that Obama knows his marketing.

JG Etc on Obama

Obama's Loss Blamed on Chas Edwards

Great viral concept by Remember to vote tomorrow, Tuesday, November 4.

Obama Is Marketer of the Year

From Ad Age:

“Just weeks before he demonstrates whether his campaign’s blend of grass-roots appeal and big media-budget know-how has converted the American electorate, Sen. Barack Obama has shown he’s already won over the nation’s brand builders. He’s been named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008.”

Obama ProgressUlysses dvdrip

Godin Sez, Get The Other 99% Of Your Customers to Caucus

From Seth’s Blog:

“Sure, 1% of your customers blog or post or just plain talk. They’re louder than ever before. But the other 99% represent a real opportunity for you. Figure out how to get them out there. Cajole them to go to a caucus.”

(The 1% Rule explained here.)

I know it worked for Obama yesterday — get of them to caucus — but that might be the harder path, getting your quiet fans to alter their personalities so they become talkative fans. An alternative suggestion: Find talkative folks, and see if you can deliver a noteworthy experience with your brand.


Anti-Gay Presidential Candidate's Ads on

According to Nielsen (see NY Times), banner ads for Mitt Romney’s presidential candidate ran 515,000 times on AOL’s, the ad network that accidentally put ads for the anti-gay candidate on the pro-gay (and anti-Romney) site, says the number of impressions was only 32,000.

Romney’s ads also ran alongside pornographic scenes of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger on fiction site McCain ads ran on liberal-leaning Huffington Post, Guliani ads ran on progressive DailyKos, Obama ads ran on Amazon alongside a book deemed by Jewish groups to be anti-Semitic.

“Part of the issue seems to be that political strategists came into the campaign season unschooled in the challenges of Internet advertising, and Web advertising sales outlets are not necessarily aware of the unique sensitivities of each presidential campaign.”

I believe the first part — political strategists may not know how online ad networks work. But the second? Oh come on. The problem isn’t that the people at “Web advertising sales outlets” like aren’t politically savvy enough to understand the “unique sensitives” of their advertisers. It’s that they don’t have those people on staff; the ads are targeted and served by computer algorithms that don’t know how to worry about sensitivities.