Republican vs Democrat vs Independent: The Politics of Advertising


It’s not even 2008 yet and I’m hearing and seeing more and more about political jockeying. I’m not really surprised, this time, though. But, you can be sure I’ll be consuming much less media in the coming months than normal, and I bet you might too.

It’s not that we’re unpatriotic or don’t have a stitch of political opinion in our bodies. It’s not that we don’t care about the policies, or voting, or the next president. We probably do. But, it’s an interesting feeding frenzy which turns this country into a war-zone every 4 years. And what’s worse, I’ll have a harder time ignoring the democratic party and republican party this year than ever.

Why? Because they finally figured out what the internet is used for. Porn and blogging (known as “press” to politicians).

Don’t go all crazy on me. We all know it’s one of the first things a pubescent teen (or younger) looks up. I’m not saying it should be. I just know that statistically, it is.

The second thing that happens… they go talk to their friends (blog, myspace, some other social network/chat/IM/twitter/whatever-communication-tool-is-hot-now).

Economist chart - porn vs community

But, as you can see, that’s quickly changing.

Back to politics, not porn

Why all this talk about porn and politics when the title says something about advertising?

Simple. Porn has lead technological adoption like almost no other industry. Politics is a little slow, but they just figured out blogging and social networks. 4 Years ago, there was a lot of chatter about the democrats blogging, and how that helped their campaigning. This year, the same thing is occurring – some republicans are working on understanding blogging while the democrats work understanding today’s media, namely social media. Some democrats are talking about their bills regarding the war.

Welcome to the internet Obama.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that Barack has adopted a social media strategy with widgets, myspace, facebook, and the whole gang. His campaigners are getting it. In addition to keeping up with the Joneses on social media, press, and blogging (or in this case the Obamas), republicans, democrats, and independents are buying up online ads.

Ah, there we are. The advertisements.

Both democrats and republicans are purchasing Google Adwords and other text and banner ads, betting against each other as fast as Clinton and his mistress denied inhaling. Democrat press. Republican press. So, now, not only do I have to avert my eyes from the mainstream media, I’m going to have to do the same to blogs. Lucky for me, I don’t get a ton of ads in my RSS feeds. Nor will I typically click through to a blog that has to do with politics.

But, for those of you out there who feel you’re bombarded by the media and those politicians every time you turn around, I’d suggest unplugging for the next year and a half. It’s likely to get uglier and harder to miss.

What’s the result of all these ads though?

My opinion on all the advertising done by each campaign is pretty bleak. I can’t see political campaign online advertisements (unless they’re as tasteless as political TV ads), doing much good to sway voters. Maybe I’m naive to think this, but I honestly don’t know that many people who are swayed to vote differently when they see an ad. I can’t even see them clicking on the ad.

To be bombarded with them at every channel click is one thing. You can’t get away from them. You’re almost forced to watch them. It takes effort to avoid them. But, when it comes to the internet, it’s reversed. It takes effort to go look at whatever those 3 lines of text say. It takes effort to click through and force yourself to read that stuff, unless you’ve already sided with one or the other.

So, it’s really that they’re after the swing votes. And that’s where I think there’s a ton of opportunity. Rather than paying for advertisements designed and placed for your own supporters, pay for and design them for your opposition’s voters – the ones more on the fence. It’s done all the time by arbitragers, and it works. Consistently.

The main problem for politicians in our political process, though, is that they have to go through primaries. They still have to gain support within their own support, to support them. Yes, that last sentence was redundant. The point is, they’re paying all this money to campaign against their own parties. That’s redundant spending. Wouldn’t it be better if they focused on winning the issues with your base first (less spending), and then focused on the kicking your opponent’s ass later (more spending)?

So who wins?

I’ll tell you who wins the presidential race.

Someone from the democratic party? No.

A republican candidate? Nope.

An independent? Keep guessing.

Porn? Yes. Publishers like me and other bloggers who put their ads up? Yes. Google and the ad networks? You bet they do.

So, I’ll go ahead and ignore the democratic ads, republican ads, and independent ads for the next year and a half. I’ll essentially unplug after this, go get my morning coffee, and read my ad-free RSS feeds, and go work. When it’s all over, I’ll check my bank account, and I’ll expect it to be bigger than it was before I wrote this post. Thanks Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards. Thank you, also Ron Paul, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Joe Biden. You are awesome. Keep up the good work!

[tags]republican party, democratic party, republican, democrat, bill, war, advertising, ads, online[/tags]

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

4 Comments on "Republican vs Democrat vs Independent: The Politics of Advertising"

  1. Jed says:

    This is very good. Hey campaigns: way to waste tons of your supporter’s money. Way to put your money to the most uncreative use possible.

    *sigh*

  2. nate says:

    Jed, you’re a patriot I’m proud of. I applaud your decisiveness to stick to the political process. Many times I give up. But, you inspire me to actually vote (sometimes).

    And hey, I could think of way more unproductive, albeit not uncreative, things to put their money too.

  3. Luke says:

    is independenrt a group in republican

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