Will Obama Be America’s First Search Engine President?

Written By Noah Mallin | June 2, 2008 | 5 Comments

Barack Obama

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 Clinton’s on Google in February 2008, a month where he raised an astounding $45 million from donors to her $30 million.  According to WebGuild Obama spent $1 million to Clinton’s $67,000 in that month alone, on top of $58,000 on Yahoo search ads which Clinton didn’t bother to advertise on. Here’s the helpful spending chart from WebGuild:WebGuild- Barack Spends $1 Million On GoogleAccording to FEC filings obtained by ClickZ, Obama has spent nearly $3 million on search in 2008 alone.

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.

5 Responses to “Will Obama Be America’s First Search Engine President?”

  1. [...] Will Obama Be America’s First Search Engine President?SearchViews – New York,NY,USA… 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. … [...]

  2. Ed Shea says:

    This is a clear situation of differing demographics in the target audience. Obama has the younger better educated, and more affluent supporters, vs. Clinton with less educated lower income group. You may find that Obama increases his conventional media spend to capture the Clinton demographic. No surprise here Obama just went where the money was. The likely Clinton support is not online.

  3. [...] 67000 in that month alone, on top of 58000 on Yahoo search ads which Clinton didn??t bother to …http://www.reprisemediawpt.com/searchviews//index.php/archives/2008/06/will-obama-be-america%E2%80%99s-first-search-e…Search Month: May 2008 Search News, In Review Search Engine Land search Month is a monthly [...]

  4. [...] groups are taking different tacks to harness this power. As we have pointed out before John McCain has become very aggressive in buying keywords that are issue oriented. Take a look at [...]

  5. [...] of the first posts I did for SearchViews asked whether Obama would be America’s first search President. At the time Senator Obama had just emerged from a bruising primary battle with Hillary [...]

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