Lefty Political Sites Get Last Minute Healthcare Ad Money

ClickZ News - Politics & AdvocacyThe healthcare reform battle still isn’t over, and some left-leaning political sites have benefitted from that this week. Health Care for America Now, a large coalition encompassing over 1,000 organizations, aimed to gather petition signups Monday and Tuesday through a splashy series of homepage takeovers on sites including Talking Points Memo, FireDogLake, and Daily Kos.

For HCAN, the goal was to encourage grassroots healthcare reform supporters to sign a petition addressed to President Obama, and House and Senate majority leaders. “Don’t Let the Insurance Companies Win,” urged a display ad running on the TPM homepage in conjunction with the takeover. The ads, and a large button at the top of the sites, linked to a “Finish Reform Right” landing page featuring a petition.

HCAN has spent $400,000 overall in the TV and online push, which includes spots on national cable and Washington, D.C.-area broadcast television. Homepage takeovers were seen Monday and Tuesday on AmericaBlog, Crooks and Liars, FireDogLake, and Daily Kos; the same takeover campaign started yesterday on Talking Points Memo.

HCAN may continue the effort today, said Levana Layendecker, director of online campaigns for the coalition, which was formed specifically to advocate around healthcare reform legislation. “We’re sort of taking stock…in terms of how we’re doing in terms of performance,” Layendecker told ClickZ yesterday. The group includes large unions such as AFL-CIO, SEIU, and UAW, as well as other advocacy organizations like Planned Parenthood and Children’s Defense Fund.

“To finish the job and deliver a health reform bill that meets the needs of America’s families, we urge that you and conference leaders resolve a number of critical outstanding issues,” stated the petition, addressed to the President, along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The petition was also copied to “Your Representative in the House,” determined through zip codes submitted by petition signers.

The action-oriented campaign was aimed at creating “high impact to restart pressure” around healthcare reform, said Diane Rinaldo, VP of sales for news site TPM. “They’re looking for a higher concentration of grassroots supporters.”

The timing is ripe for such an effort, as Democratic leaders have returned to Washington in preparation for resumption of the full Congress.

“We operate in a somewhat rapid response environment,” explained Layendecker, who said once the Senate healthcare bill passed following passage of a House bill, HCAN decided it needed to make sure Democratic leaders include its key priorities in the final version.

Healthcare reform bills were passed in the House and Senate, and are now on track to be merged into one for the President’s signature. However, lawmakers must settle differences between the two bills, including language on abortion and taxation.

According to Rinaldo, HCAN also ran a healthcare-related awareness campaign on TPM last year, intended to reach legislators and legislative influencers; parts of the campaign were geographically targeted to the Washington, D.C. area.

It’s unclear whether advertising around healthcare reform will have a resurgence in the coming weeks as legislators hammer out the final bill. However, Rinaldo said she expects in the next month reform advocacy advertisers will spend more. “I think it will continue to be as strong as it was in the fall,” she said.

On the horizon, Rinaldo expects interest from advocacy campaigns around issues such as the environment, as well as midterm election campaigns. She said inquiries about online advertising from 2010 election campaigns are already trickling in. Campaigns are also looking past the primaries to the general election, and asking for “hard info,” she added. “This is early.”

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