Perry Goes Negative in Twitter Ads

Twitter is already an important platform for political discussion, and if Twitter ads from Rick Perry and Mitt Romney today are any indication, it could be significant for 2012 election advertising, too.

“To me Twitter is the newest and most different thing this cycle,” said Vincent Harris, who’s heading up Perry’s digital campaign team. Harris spoke with ClickZ Politics this morning from the Google Hangout, a Google-sponsored press room at the Polk County Convention Complex in Iowa.

The Perry camp, hoping to leapfrog Rick Santorum – the latest GOP hopeful to surge in Iowa – is targeting ads to people in Iowa searching for Santorum on Twitter. In search results, Promoted Tweets from Perry link to a YouTube video featuring an anti-Santorum TV spot that pans Santorum for voting for earmarks while serving in congress. “Rick Santorum is unelectable,” notes the promo tweet. Others promote SantorumDefendsEarmarks.com; the microsite includes audio of the same ad message. The YouTube video today links to Perry’s Iowa Action Center, which offers information about caucusing for Perry.

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Searches for “Ron Paul,” even by those outside Iowa, turned up a promoted tweet from Team Rick Perry, too. “Washington insiders have left us with debt and bailouts. Watch our new ad ‘Fox’ and join the campaign at rickperry.org,” stated the tweet.

Early media buys from the Romney campaign led to a dearth of online video ad inventory in Iowa. “Video inventory is sold out,” said Harris. “We are trying to get whatever pieces there are left.” The campaign is using ad placements like the ones on Twitter to drive video views.

The Romney campaign locked up local Iowa inventory on YouTube months ago, and has a strong presence on Des Moines Register, as well as UnionLeader.com, a key news site covering the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire. Even President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign bought up the DesMoinesRegister.com homepage today with a message declaring, “The Republican candidates are leaving Iowa but their terrible plans are here to stay.”

Perry’s camp is also targeting ads promoting the earmarks message to Santorum fans on Facebook, and aiming Facebook ads at Romney and Gingrich fans that link to EstablishmentInsider.com, a site showcasing a TV spot that paints them as political insiders.

In addition, Harris said the Perry team is targeting veterans through Google’s network display ads, and aiming ads featuring Anita Perry, Rick’s wife, to Republican women on Facebook.

The Romney camp was first among political advertisers to use Twitter advertising. The former Massachusetts governor is back today with a positive Promoted Tweet including a message that seems aimed at New Hampshire primary voters, and possibly the nation. “This is a time when we look beyond who we are today and ask who we will become tomorrow,” noted the sponsored tweet, which appeared in search results for “Romney.” It linked to a video featuring Romney delivering the same message during a speech in Bedford, New Hampshire.

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