Political ad money moving?

A new study from Burst! Media points to the growing perception that the web is going to play a significant role in the 2008 political season. I’ve written before about how we cannot take for granted that this election will bring in political revenue at traditional levels, and this study suggests that an online political strategy is a necessity for local media companies. One caveat: this is a study of 2,100 online users who are likely to vote in the 2008 Presidential election. It does not include those likely voters who don’t use the web.

One-fourth of likely voters told the researchers that the Internet is the best place to learn about a candidate’s position on election issues or to research general election issues.

Men are significantly more likely than women to cite the Internet as the best source for election information, 28.7% versus 21.1% respectively. There are interesting differences in the response of age segments. Among the youngest likely voter segment (18–24 years), television (27.6%) and the Internet (24.5%) reign supreme for election information. The Internet clearly leads other media among respondents 25–44 years, and newspapers lead with older age segments (45 years and older).

Burst Media Image

Here are some other fascinating stats from this study.

– One out of five (22.2%) likely voters have already visited a 2008 presidential candidate’s website.

– 30.0% have visited an issue advocacy group’s website. The affluent (income above $75k) are more likely (39.7%) than all other income segments to have visited an issue advocacy group’s website.

– One-quarter have clicked on a web advertisement for a political candidate or issue advocacy group.

– 50.7% of likely voters would watch a video clip on a candidates website featuring the candidate discussing his or her positions on election issues.

– Nearly one-third have visited the website of a candidate or issue advocacy group they did not or were unsure they’d support.

It must be stated that, as an online ad network, Burst stands to benefit from increased use of the web for candidate advertising, and that’s reflected in the study’s conclusion. However, this is what broadcasters are selling against:

The Internet provides candidates, advocacy groups and marketers with a “high touch” medium to reach new audiences and enhance existing constituent relationships. Furthermore, the Internet gives parties the opportunity to reach targeted segments in an environment that is highly engaging and, by the nature of politics, interactive. Take advantage of this environment by using creative and display technologies, like video, that not only provide substantial information, but also allow the consumers to easily pursue further research or action.

Given the significance of historical political revenue for television stations, it’s critical that we pay attention in this area. Candidate messages on YouTube, for example, cost them nothing, and there’s anecdotal evidence of their effectiveness.

Britteny, a Ball State University student, writing in the school’s “Notes from the Digital Frontier” blog, notes that YouTube is the new face of the political scene. “I actually think that this could actually do a lot of good in getting my generation more involved in politics,” she wrote, “and to make Americans in general more aware and more in control of their political expressions.”

If you don’t already have a political web strategy in place and functioning, you’re late to the party. Be forewarned that this is a dangerous position.

(Online Media Daily story)


  1. […] Political ad money moving? Terry Heaton takes a look at a Burst!Media report that shows the internet is a major player among Americans seeking presidential candidate policy information and wonder if the ad landscape will change, too. Of note to us print folks: newspapers run behind TV and the internet as political information sources except among older respondents. […]

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