Just in time for this year’s mid-term Congressional elections in November the US Supreme Court opened the financial floodgates by overturning campaign finance rules that prevented corporations from spending at will to oppose or support political candidates. Two of the biggest likely beneficiaries of these new more liberal (not in the political sense) spending rules will undoubtedly be Google and Facebook, although they stood to benefit regardless as more and more political ad dollars flow into search and online display.
According to The Hill both Google and Facebook are preparing for what they expect to be a big increase in online ad spending around issues and candidates in the run up to US November elections:
Google’s Ann Arbor, Mich., advertising sales office will handle most of the political campaigns, and it recently brought on Andrew Roos, a former campaign manager, to be an AdWords account executive of its election and issue advocacy advertising team.
“We’re ready for online political ads to go more mainstream this year,” said Peter Greenberger, Google’s chief evangelist for the political sales team.
Facebook recently created a two-person political ad team at its Palo Alto headquarters and plans to devote more staff as Election Day gets closer.
While, theoretically, you shouldn’t see any political ads on Google unless you search for issues and candidates, Facebook is another matter. With its demographic and location targeting Facebook is a natural for “awareness” advertising for both local politicians and issues. That could me scores of political display ads on the “right rail” in the coming several months. It will be interesting to observe how accurate and effective that targeting is.
Behavioral targeting, to my knowledge, has not been used to any extensive degree by politicians to date. This may be the election that changes too.