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Political Action Ads Emerge in May

  |  June 20, 2008   |  Comments

MoveOn.org and NOW PACs threw their hats into the online political ad ring in May, while the Democratic National Committee asked for party support.

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgThe PACs have arrived. Political Action Committees affiliated with MoveOn.org and National Organization of Women threw their hats into the online political ad ring in May, while the Democratic National Committee supported both of its party candidates in a plea for donations.

Running its most display ads yet, Senator Barack Obama's campaign stepped up use of energy policy messaging and continued its North Carolina ad bombardment leading up to a big win in that late primary state. Republican Senator John McCain pushed into new issue ad territory, promoting his views on judges and populist themes like gas tax relief and economic assistance. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's camp carried on with a pure fundraising effort.

moveon_mccainbushchallenge.jpgMoveOn.org Political Action and The DNC each aimed to equate President George W. Bush with the Republican nominee. "Don't Give Bush a 3rd Term, Stop John McCain," declared display ads placed mainly on Politico. All ads from the party's national committee urged people to donate cash, usually $25. MoveOn took a slightly more tongue-in-cheek approach to its creative, implying it may be difficult to decipher Bush's words from McCain's. "While running for president, who called himself 'a different kind of Republican'?" asked ads prompting users to answer "Bush" or "McCain." According to Nielsen Online AdRelevance data, the DNC ran about 6 million ad impressions in May. About 3 million impressions from MoveOn were spotted primarily on CNN, Slate and Politico.

While the left painted McCain as Bush doppelganger, his own campaign sought to appeal to everyday Americans in a series of more populist messages. "You Need Help, John McCain's Economic Plan, Immediate Help for American Families," read one ad picturing a couple seated at the kitchen table, poring over bills. Another ad asked, "Gas Prices Too High?" and suggested users sign a petition supporting the candidate's gas tax moratorium proposal. Indicating that message has been working to garner voter contact information and donations, the campaign increased the number of impressions of that particular ad from around 180,000 in April to over 1 million in May.

mccain_gasprices.jpgBut McCain's campaign didn't forget the need to attract conservatives. In addition to continuing long-running ads against pork-barrel spending, John McCain 2008 introduced ads touting the Senator's support of "judges who will properly interpret the Constitution and not legislate social policy from the bench." The Arizona Senator's 8.5 million May ads showed up on conservative sites National Review and Lucianne.com, in addition to Topix, Slate, HuffingtonPost.com, Military.com, YouTube, and others.

Like the McCain camp, Obama for America also ran ads about gasoline taxes. However, Obama attacked Clinton for her support of a gas tax moratorium. "Beware of Hillary's Gas Tax Gimmick," cautioned some ads; others prompted users to view a video on "The Truth About Gas Prices."

According to AdRelevance information, Obama's campaign ran a significant amount of those fuel-focused ads, in addition to millions of ads asking people to help elect the candidate by joining his campaign. However, especially startling is the apparent dedication to targeting North Carolinians with online ads up until the day of their May 6 primary.

"Vote for Barack Obama, Polls Are Open Today 6:30AM-7:30PM, Find Your Polling Place," suggested one of a variety of display ads pushing people to the polls, where he beat Clinton by over 10 percent. The campaign pummeled North Carolina voters with a total of around 90 million online display ads in April and May urging them to vote early or go to the polls on election day. Over 20 million North Carolina-specific ad impressions were served in May.

obama_nc.jpgObama's campaign ran its most display ads yet last month: more than 100 million according to AdRelevance. Top sites serving up the Illinois Senator's ads in May included Yahoo Mail, Politico, HuffingtonPost.com, CNN, MSN and About. Also, as in previous months, several ads ran on Allrecipes.com, indicating the campaign has been targeting female demographics through ad networks.

Hillary Clinton's 3.5 million online display ad impressions appeared measly in comparison to Obama's monster ad run last month. Hillary Clinton for President ran a handful of ad creatives on CNN and AOL, all with its standard, simple "Help Make History" message, and all asking for either $5 or $50 donations. NOW's PAC picked up Clinton's history-making torch, suggesting that voters, "Change History" in ads running on female-friendly sites such as Home & Garden Television, SoapZone, Food Network and Martha Stewart. Some of the 3.75 million ads placed by the group also appeared on NYTimes.com and gaming site GSN.

May 2008 Ads by
Hillary Clinton for President
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Help Make History Support Hillary Clinton Today!" "Contribute $5 Now" 336x280 Large Rectangle 1,996,000
"Help Make History Support Hillary Clinton Today!" "Contribute $50 Now" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 1,531,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

May 2008 Ads by
Democratic National Committee
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Make History. Make Change." "Donate $25 Now" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 2,115,000
"President Bush has talked about us staying in Iraq for 50 years, 100 years in Iraq, Is John McCain the Right Choice for America's Future? Help us air this television ad" "Donate Today!" 728x90 Leaderboard, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 1,970,000
"Don't Give Bush a 3rd Term Stop John McCain" "Donate $25 Now" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 897,000
"Help Elect a Democratic President" "Donate $25 Now" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 806,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

May 2008 Ads by
John McCain 2008
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"One man has the experience One man has the courage One man has our trust John McCain for President." "Join Our Team" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 468x60 Full Banner, 336x280 Large Rectangle 2,769,000
Gas Prices Too High? Gasoline [prices] Arm Leg First Born Support John McCain's Moratorium" "Sign the Petition." 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 1,107,000
"Three million of your tax dollars to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that's a paternity issue or a criminal issue." "Stop Pork Barrel Spending Sign the Petition" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 468x60 Full Banner 869,000
"John McCain supports judges who will properly interpret the Constitution and not legislate social policy from the bench" "Do You: Agree, Disagree" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 523,000
"You Earned It Shouldn't You Keep It? Immediate Economic Help John McCain's Economic Plan." "Learn More" 728x90 Leaderboard, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 463,000
"You Need Help John McCain's Economic Plan Immediate Help for American Families" "Learn More" 728x90 Leaderboard, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 452,000
"Who do you trust to protect America? John McCain for President" "Join the Team" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 468x60 Full Banner 419,000
"McCainomics? John McCain's Economic Plan" "Learn More" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 728x90 Leaderboard 210,000
"$74 million tax dollars for peanut storage costs? That's Nuts! Outraged by Pork?" "Sign the Petition" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 201,000
"Courageous Service. Experienced Leadership. Bold Solutions. Watch Courageous Service Video. "Play Video" 728x90 Leaderboard 182,000
"McCain Beats Clinton. Read All About It" "Click Here" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 29,000
"1 million for a Woodstock Museum? not so groovy man" "Watch Video" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 27,000
"Is This The Future You Want? Make Sure It Doesn't Happen!" "Click Here" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 24,000
"McCain. Experience Money Can't Buy. Elect John McCain." "Click Here" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 11,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

May 2008 Ads by
MoveOn.org Political Action
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"The Bush McCain Challenge Q: Who promised that U.S. troops would be greeted as "liberators" in Iraq?" "Bush, McCain Click one!" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 2,552,000
"While running for president, who called himself 'a different kind of Republican'?" "Bush, McCain Click one!" 728x90 Leaderboard 615,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

May 2008 Ads by
NOW Political Action Committee
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Change History" n/a 728x90 Leaderboard 3,668,000
"Martha Abigail Dolly Mary Todd Eleanor Jackie Betty Nancy Barbara Laura Bill" "Change History" 728x90 Leaderboard 47,000
"Command-Her in Chief" n/a 728x90 Leaderboard 41,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

Select April 2008 Ads by
Obama for America
Ad Copy Call to Action Ad Sizes Estimated Number of Impressions
"Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States Visit the Official Camapign Website" "Join Us" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle 37,283,000
"Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website." "Join Us" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle, 728x90 Leaderboard 17,063,000
"Vote for Barack Obama Polls Are Open Tuesday 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place [NC.BarackObama.com]" "Go" 728x90 Leaderboard 6,927,000
"One-Stop Early Voting April 17-May 3 You can vote now for Barack Obama even if you are not registered or have never voted before! Vote Now For Barack Obama Find Your One-Stop Early Voting Location You can register and vote all at once at a One-Stop early voting location [NC.BarackObama.com] "North Carolina Click on the Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle 5,150,000
"Change We Can Believe In Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States Visit the Official Camapign Website" "Join Us" 728x90 Leaderboard, 300x250 Medium Rectangle 8,377,000
"Caution Beware of Hillary's Gas Tax Gimmick The Clinton Gas Tax 'Holiday' The Clinton Gas Tax 'Holiday' Gimmick will: do noting to reduce the long-term price of gas do nothing to reduce carbon emissions do nothing to reduce our independence on foreign oil Nothing Will Change Until We Change Washington Barack Obama will...[various energy initiatives listed]" "Find Out More" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 3,118,000
"Vote Now For Barack Obama One-Stop Early Voting April 17-May 3 Find Your One-Stop Early Voting Location Now You can register and vote at the same time, at a One-Stop Early Voting Location [NC.BarackObama.com]" "Go or call 1-888-NC-EARLY" 728x90 Leaderboard 2,638,000
"The Truth About Gas Prices Get Honest Answers" "Launch Video" 300x250 Medium Rectangle, 336x280 Large Rectangle 3,270,000
"Vote for Barack Obama Polls are open on Tuesday 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place" "North Carolina Click On The Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 2,248,000
"Change We Can Believe In Vote for Barack Obama Polls are open on Tuesday 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place [NC.BarackObama.com]" "Go" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 2,141,000
"Change We Can Believe In Help Elect Barack Obama President of the United States Visit the Official Camapign Website" "Join Us" 728x90 Leaderboard 4,369,000
"Vote for Barack Obama Polls Are Open Today 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place [NC.BarackObama.com]" "Go" 728x90 Leaderboard 1,613,000
"Change We Can Believe In Barack Obama for President Visit the Official Campaign Website." "Join Us" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 1,505,000
"Vote Now For Barack Obama One-Stop Early Voting April 17-May 3 Find Your One-Stop Early Voting Location Not registered yet? That's okay: You can register and vote all at once, at a One-Stop Early Voting Location, but only until May 3." "Go or call 1-888-NC-EARLY" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 1,411,000
"Meet Barack Obama. Sign Up for Invitations to Campaign Events" "Join Us" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 991,000
"Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website Sign Up for Invitations to Campaign Events." "Join Us" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 936,000
"Change We Can Believe In. Vote for Barack Obama Polls Are Open Today 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place [NC.BarackObama.com]" "Go" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 439,000
"Vote Now For Barack Obama Find Your Polling Place Polls are open on Tuesday 6am-6pm" "Indiana. Click on the Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 369,000
"Change We Can Believe In Barack Obama for President. Visit the Official Campaign Website Sign Up for Invitations to Campaign Events." "Join Us" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 321,000
"Vote for Barack Obama Polls Are Open Today 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place" "North Carolina Click On The Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 285,000
"Visit the Official Campaign Website Help Elect Barack Obama for President Sign Up for Barack Obama Campaign Events." "Join Us" 160x600 Wide Skyscraper 249,000
"Indiana Early Primary Voting Is Now Open Vote Now For Barack Obama Find Your Early-Vote Location Indiana Early Voting is not open. Please show your support by voting now for Barack Obama." "Indiana Click On The Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 170,000
"Vote for Barack Obama Polls Are Open Tuesday 6:30AM-7:30PM Find Your Polling Place" "North Carolina Click On The Map" 300x250 Medium Rectangle 150,000
Source: Nielsen Online, AdRelevance, 2008

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

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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