Obama Works with Ethnic Social Sites to Remove Bad Ad Potential

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgDemocratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama would probably rather not have ads promoting “Asian Girl Photos” on his AsianAve.com profile. That’s one reason his campaign worked directly with the Asian social network site’s publisher to ensure a potential reputation damaging situation like that doesn’t occur.

Though Community Connect VP of Marketing Kay Madati thinks it’s good idea for political campaigns to create profiles on the site without the company’s consultation, he understands why they might not want to.

“They don’t want to be seen as endorsing a specific product,” he said. “If I’m running the online media department at one of these campaigns… I realize I can’t manage some of the content on my profile on my own.”

On profile pages set up for Obama ’08 on Community Connect’s niche ethnic and interest group social sites, house banner ads push the publisher’s own offerings such as BlackPlanet Music or MiGente Music. The publisher can also limit the types of ads that run on a brand’s profile page by blocking advertising from a direct competitor, for instance.

Since the Obama campaign launched profile pages on Community Connect’s sites a couple weeks ago, the campaigns of top Democratic opponents Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have also contacted the publisher about setting up profiles, sans potentially-inappropriate ads, according to Madati.

“Edwards has reached out and we’re speaking with the Hillary campaign today,” he said. “The Obama people are moving so aggressively… I think it prompted the other campaigns to pay attention,” added Madati.

In addition to its African-American-aimed crown jewel BlackPlanet.com, Community Connect publishes AsianAve.com, gay community network Glee.com, Latino-focused MiGente.com and the recently-launched Christian networking site FaithBase.com, all of which feature an official Obama profile.

To help build momentum for the campaign’s efforts, Community Connect has been running homepage display ads to drive traffic to the Obama profile pages if those spots haven’t been sold already. The publisher also sent out e-mail alerts to community members notifying them about the official Obama presence. As for a full-fledged paid ad campaign on the network’s sites, Madati expects that will come in time.

The Obama campaign has lightly tailored profiles and blog posts it’s added to the social sites. For instance, Obama’s Glee.com profile includes a post about National Coming Out Day, while his MiGente page touts the endorsement of his energy plan by former U.S. Secretary of Energy Federico Pena. The candidate’s profiles on AsianAve.com, MiGente and BlackPlanet.com spotlight education and family issues, while statements on Glee.com highlight environmental issues. FaithBase.com and AsianAve.com note Obama’s thoughts on faith and politics.

Candidates or other advertisers “shouldn’t think about setting up profiles on our sites as re-tasking general marketing content,” said Madati.

Despite some customization to appeal to each group, the candidate’s main “personal message” on all the sites is the same, noting, “I was fortunate to be able to grow up seeing America from varied viewpoints.”

Obama ’08 spokesperson Jen Psaki stressed the Community Connect profiles and others on social sites like MySpace and Facebook are mere components of a broad campaign strategy. “We will continue to update and change issues,” featured in the profiles, she said.

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