It may be too early in the '08 presidential election season to have any real indication where candidates stand in the eyes of voters, but information on what politicians are doing online may help their campaigns reach potential supporters.
Recently compiled data, for instance, show visitors to official Web sites of Democratic hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Dennis Kucinich favor software technology sites. People checking out Republican Rudy Giuliani's site frequent military community sites. And, while Obama dominates in the religious category, Clinton is the only of the four who attracts users visiting Hispanic community content.
For a report provided exclusively to ClickZ News, behavioral targeting firm Tacoda pooled ComScore site tracking data with anonymous user data collected in the past month from sites in the Tacoda ad network to determine where visitors to official campaign sites go elsewhere online.
While Giuliani site visitors were 82 times more likely to visit military community sites than the rest of Web users, none of visitors to the three Democratic candidate sites were likely to seek such content. Giuliani visitors were also likely to frequent content in categories like Asian and European travel, corporate, astrology, men's health, and editorial opinion. They spent time on college and fantasy sports sites and view animated entertainment online, too.
Visitors to Clinton's, Obama's and Kucinich's sites were more likely to go to tech sites covering UNIX and Linux software information than any other content category. Visitors to Kucinich's site were 136 times more likely than the rest of the Web population to do so, while visitors to Clinton's were 31 times more likely and those on Obama's site were 21 times more likely. These niche software sites were off the Giuliani visitor radar, though that audience was slightly more likely to visit computer software sites than others online.
"If a candidate can identify the online behavior of their supporters, it provides a framework for where online to recruit other supporters," said Dan Solomon, CEO of Mindshare Interactive Campaigns, an online consulting firm serving businesses and public affairs clients. Though there's a chance visitors to the candidate sites are supporters, Solomon isn't so quick to draw that conclusion, noting, "Most Americans aren't tuning in yet." Still, he added, "Those who are, are certainly more likely to being open to being active supporters."
Those visiting HillaryClinton.com remain interested in viewing real estate-related content, as presented in earlier data compiled by Tacoda. They also view Web sites featuring information on senior health, as well as baseball and basketball. In addition, Clinton site visitors listen to talk, alternative and soft music.
Clinton site goers were nearly 12 times more likely than others online to visit Hispanic community sites, while no other candidates tracked drew audiences with increased likelihood of visiting Hispanic communities. As for African American Web communities, Clinton's audience was three times more likely to visit them, compared to Obama's and Giuliani's, which were about as likely to do so as other Web users.
According to the report, Obama visitors were 17 times more likely than others to view sites with cell phone-related content. They're also 9 times more likely to visit "gadget geek" content on the Web than others, compared to Clinton and Giuliani site vistors, each about 4 times as likely.
Those seen on Obama's site also expressed great interest in religious community content online. In fact, they were 11 times more likely to view it than others compared to Kucinich's site audience (4 times), Giuliani's (3 times) or Clinton's (2 times). Obama site visitors also viewed New York, South America and senior travel content.
Tacoda compiled data only on users visiting the four campaign sites because they were the only ones attracting enough traffic to be tracked by ComScore.
Visitors to Giuliani's and Obama's sites also had an interest in used cars in common. Giuliani's audience was over 20 times more likely to view information on used midsize and compact vehicles, while Obama's were 11 times more likely to look at content on used compacts. Both Clinton's and Kucinich's site visitors gravitated towards new car content, with Clinton's over 10 times more likely to view new compact and sports car content and Kucinich's 15 times more likely than others online to look at new compact SUVs.
Such data may have more impact as the election nears, said Mindshare Interactive's Solomon. "Identifying people's communities in addition to their geography will become more important the closer we get to election day since it will be difficult to reach them by geography alone because television [ad spots] will be taken up by everybody."
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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