In 1963 John F. Kennedy was considered by some to be the first President elected through the power of television, due to his youthful good looks in contrast to a sweaty Richard M. Nixon in their televised debate (many radio listeners thought Nixon had won). In 2008 Barack Obama may become the first President elected in part through the power of search marketing.
Barack Obama is poised to overtake Hillary Clinton tomorrow in pledged delegates to become the Democrat’s nominee in the general election. If he manages to win the White House against Republican John McCain it could very well be because of his targeted outreach to voters, and specifically his use of search engine marketing on Google. Put in context, media research firm PQ Media estimated that although most candidates will have spent less than 2% of their total advertising spend on search marketing this still represents a whopping 151% increase over 2004. Of all of the candidates so far it’s no secret that Obama has been the most aggressive in online outreach above and beyond search. Obama developed a strong following early on key social network sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. However, what has set him apart from his rivals online in our/my opinion is the emphasis he has put on paid search on all major search engines. A good indication of this is Obama’s spend versus
Interestingly according to a report from iCrossing, a digital marketing company John McCain has spent more than Obama and Clinton on paid candidate-related and issues-related search engine keyword marketing, yet Obama still leads in overall searches conducted. Now that the contours of the general election campaign are clear it will be interesting to see if Obama starts to shift more resources towards keyword buys or if McCain changes up his approach to more closely resemble Obama’s.