For Political Advertisers, Legalities Can Deplete Power of Web’s Immediacy

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgCommercial advertisers may be risk-averse, but they ain’t got nothin’ on political advertisers. Candidate campaigns might be the worst. In my talk recently with Mindy Finn, director of eStrategy for the Romney campaign, I asked her about how she handles FEC regulations and other legal issues.

“As a political campaign,” she told me, “the one layer of vetting that everything goes through is legal…everything.”

Of course, commercial advertisers often have the luxury of waiting a couple extra weeks if need be. But because they’re wrapped up in the news of the day — or the hour — political campaigns have to turn on a dime, and often the lawyers prevent that. In fact, they sometimes limit the positive impact the Web can have for campaigns, according to Finn.

“The biggest legal constraint has been it derails the value you often get from doing something very quickly, and the Web is about quick movement and quick response,” she said. “Often you miss out on the edge.”

Finn agreed that sometimes holdups by interactive ad tech vendors can also deplete the impact of a Web effort. I’ve heard that from lots of people working with political advertisers.

Another interesting tidbit from our talk: there’s only so much a campaign like Romney’s will spend on online media before it becomes wasteful. “I don’t think there’s room for online advertising to have a much greater share [in the Romney for President ad budget],” she said. “One thing to remember is that online advertising is just so much cheaper.” Finn did admit more money could be spent on ad creative or other online initiatives, though.

Read more about the Romney campaign’s online strategy here.

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