Live Blogged: Lessons from the McCain Campaign’s Online Ad Program #PDFNetwork

By Henri Makembe on 06.11.09

Today, I listened in the PDF Network biweekly call.  The guest for this week’s call was Eric Frenchman who was the man in charge of online ads for the McCain campaign during the 2008 cycle.  A  Bio from the PDF says the following about Frenchman:

Eric Frenchman is founder of the online advertising and marketing consulting firm PardonMyFrench and Chief Internet Strategist for the D.C-based online advertising agency, Connell Donatelli Inc. During the 2008 cycle, Mr. Frenchman directed the online advertising for the McCain-Palin campaign, where his work was featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Newsweek, Wired, and many other national and regional publications. Eric has also managed the online political advertising for a number of other candidates and advocacy campaigns including the Republican National Committee. Connell Donatelli Inc. and Eric were just honored by The American Association of Political Consultants for Best Use of New Technology Award in 2008. An avid gamer, Eric shares his expertise and insights about online political advertising and life in the digital age on his “PardonMyFrench” weblog:

In addition to the notes below, Listen the full podcast by clicking here.

For local candidates, there are three take aways with from this call.

  1. Every bit spent on online ads at the local level helps.  This is fairly obvious but worth stressing. The reason why online ads are a game changer at the local level is that most candidates will not be running online ads.  Thus the candidate that does will dominate that aspect of the race.  During the call Frenchman went as far as saying that half of the digital budget on any campaign should be focused on search ads.  I don’t know if I agree with that but I don’t have any empirical evidence to refute it.
  2. As the races the smaller and more local, the keywords purchased should be more general but attached the locality,  For example, a candidate running  for city council in small town should not only purchase his name as a keyword, but he should also purchase the keywords for the local events happening in that town (i.e. “Town x night life”, “Town Y restaurants”, “Town Z fair”). The candidates have to have to purchase more general terms because they are often unheard of and the larger population may not be aware of the upcoming election or may not know the candidates’ name.  Thus the ads that must be more disruptive to get the attention of potential voters.
  3. The vast majority of local campaigns will not  recoup the money they spend of search because they are not.  That being said, Frenchman argues that it’s still a more effective way to spend campaign funds because it generates other interactions (i.e. watching the video, exposing potential voters to messaging, driving voters to website) more often and  at a lower cost than Direct mail mailing and newspaper ads.

If you want to listen to this PDF Network call or previous ones,  head over to the archives on the PDF site.