Political advertising is taking over television airwaves in
battleground states, but complementary online advertising is also
ubiquitous and being used by campaigns more than ever before.
Presidential campaigns, especially President Barack Obama's, have
been at the forefront of digital political advertising. But this
cycle, Congressional campaigns are catching up, using their Internet
pitches not only as a fundraising tool, but as a key component of
their strategy to target voting blocs.
There are "substantially more campaigns at the House and Senate
level than last cycle, but it's not just that they're using it, it's
how they're using it," said Rob Saliterman, head of GOP advertising
outreach at Google and former spokesman for President George W.
Television remains the dominant medium for campaign
But digital strategy firms from both parties are working with
campaigns at all levels -- from the presidential to provincial -- to
capitalize on the targeting opportunities that online advertising
provides. They are adapting new technologies and putting an
increased emphasis on the digital as the media marketplace continues
The number of people watching videos online is skyrocketing,
according to digital data compiled by comScore. It reported on
Tuesday that an all-time high of 188 million internet users in the
United States watched 37.7 billion online videos in August, with 9.5
billion video ads viewed.
Thanks to techniques such as voter-file online ad targeting --
which emerged late in the 2010 cycle -- it's easier than ever for
campaigns to show their ads to only the groups of voters they are
Pre-roll video -- where a 15- or 30-second ad airs before the
video the viewer wanted to watch starts -- was rarely used by
political campaigns before the 2010 cycle. Since then, both the use
of pre-roll video ads and the amount of available advertising space -
- known as "inventory" -- in which to air such ads have increased
"This is a consequence of a couple of different things going on
in the changing media landscape," said Eli Kaplan, a Democratic
digital strategist at Rising Tide Interactive. "More and more people
are watching video online, and more and more publishers are seeking
to monetize that inventory by putting pre-roll video advertisements
in front of it."
That's led companies including AOL, Google, Facebook and Twitter
to hire strategists from the political world to help with outreach
to potential advertisers. Just on the Republican side, along with
Saliterman joining Google, Twitter hired GOP digital strategist
Mindy Finn; Facebook brought on Katie Harbath, the former chief
digital strategist at the National Republican Senatorial Committee;
and AOL snapped up John Randall, the former e-campaign director at
the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"There's two sides to the story," said Peter Pasi, a Republican
digital strategist and executive vice president at Emotive. …