Endorse Liberty, the super PAC backing Ron Paul, burst on the political scene in December, spending large amounts of money online, almost all of it on Google and Facebook ads. The group's online spending has slowed to a drip, but Endorse Liberty isn't going anywhere. The organization is conducting online ad targeting tests in search of older, white voters and potential Republican National Convention activists.
By mid January, Endorse Liberty - headed up by digital ad industry execs - had spent nearly $3 million on web ads, according to ClickZ Politics analysis of Federal Election Commission filings. Two months later, its online ad spending has almost dried up. While the group has spent thousands this month on direct mail, video production, and other campaign efforts, it spent less than $1,000 on web ads in March.
Endorse Liberty's online campaign is not over, said co-founder Jeff Harmon.
"We're doing more tests right now," said Harmon. "In December we did a ton and we're doing as many as we did in December." The goal is to unearth the best ways to reach older voters, then determine how to scale that approach to target large groups of them in key primary states.
"He's winning the youth vote, he's winning independents, he's winning Democrats," said Harmon of the Texas congressman and GOP presidential hopeful. "One demo he struggles with is old, white voters."
Endorse Liberty has been running tests targeting the coveted voting bloc in states the group believes Paul can win. "We've got to crack the nut on the older voters," he said. "Getting that message to them [en masse] is what we're testing now. I'm used to picking out little niches... and in politics you have to win a larger group of people." Harmon is CMO at Orabrush, maker of tongue cleaning brushes.
Another prong of the mission involves attracting activists who will support Paul at the GOP convention in August. The group is "betting on a brokered convention," said Harmon. "Everything we're doing is focused on that."
According to Harmon, the organization is testing Facebook and Google ad targeting to reach Republican activists who will stand up for Paul at the convention. The assumption is that no candidate will have collected the required number of delegates by the time the party convenes to choose its 2012 presidential nominee.
Endorse Liberty has stood out among other super PACs this cycle in more ways than one. Not only has the group focused much of its ad spending online; it has stuck to positive messaging for the most part. "We're an educational PAC," said Harmon, referring to an early 2012 video aimed at persuading Iowa Caucus voters to support Paul, as well as to educate people on the best way to support his candidacy in other states.
The group has jabbed Paul's opponents, though. Many of its videos poke fun at Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and earlier GOP hopefuls. The most recent series is a humorous collection of would-be 2014 State of the Union Addresses from the other Republican candidates.
"There's a certain group of people you can't reach with just being serious," said Harmon.
Endorse Liberty has spent $2.95 million on online ads so far, mainly with Google, Facebook, and StumbleUpon.
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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.
March 19, 2014