Republicans and conservatives lost their bid to stop reconciliation on healthcare reform, but right-leaning groups are benefitting from the attention devoted to the issue nonetheless. Small government organization Freedom Works has collected hundreds of thousands of e-mail addresses since the beginning of the month, when the group launched its No Reconciliation campaign online. And earlier today, The Senate Conservatives Fund was racking up 50 sign-ups per minute, according to the Repeal ObamaCare Pledge counter on its site.
“We always try to capture [contact information] wherever we can,” said Thomas Keeley, online strategist for Freedom Works, a 16-year-old organization dedicated to “less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.” Those who signed its No Reconciliation petition in recent weeks provided names, zip codes and e-mail addresses to the group, which is still running Web ads promoting the petition.
More than 300,000 online signatures were collected since the campaign launched earlier this month. E-mail list building “is always a huge upside of running things online,” said Keeley.
Focusing the bulk of its online ad buys on Google’s search and display network, Freedom Works spent “multiple times” more money on its No Reconciliation ad buys compared to earlier healthcare reform related ad campaigns, according to Keeley, who does all of the small organization’s online advertising.
“It was a significant increase from our day-to-day spend. However out of all of our campaigns, this had one of our lowest cost-per-conversion due to the intensity of the issue,” explained Keeley.
Like The Senate Conservatives, Freedom Works also ran ads promoting its petition on Drudge Report, which Keeley called “a big hub, especially in the conservative space.” Indeed – partly driven by ads on Drudge depicting an explosion accompanied by the words, “Repeal It” – the Senate Conservatives PAC generated hundreds of signups per hour this morning from people pledging to “support with my time, money, and vote only those candidates who vow to repeal President Obama’s health care takeover.”
An ad picturing top Democrats Senator Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and President Barack Obama worked so well for Freedom Works, the group decided not to test additional ad creative for its anti-reconciliation campaign. “That was where we sort of started to ramp things up even more,” Keeley told ClickZ News. “We started the ads and were going to add more and started to see the conversion rates,” he said.
He said nearly all of the group’s ad budget is currently spent online, with a small amount going towards radio buys.
The group began its anti-healthcare reform online advertising when the first healthcare proposals were introduced in Congress. Before it launched its bigger reconciliation-related campaign, Freedom Works had been directing supporters to a page enabling them to contact Congressional members; that resulted in around 100,000 e-mails sent to legislators. They also targeted Blue Dog Coalition Democrats – a more moderate group within the party – because they were considered potentially swayable.
As the Senate Conservatives campaign indicates, healthcare reform opponents are not giving up. Instead, they are expected to continue using ongoing negotiations around the law, and hopes to repeal it, to galvanize support for Republican candidates, build supporter lists, and raise cash.
Freedom Works will continue its online ad efforts, said Keeley, suggesting the group will “tweak” the current campaign “to focus more on the Senate.” The future of the legislation now lies with the Senate, which is expected to vote on a package of House changes to the Senate bill. The group will keep up its ads, “as long as they’re debating,” he said.
Follow Kate Kaye on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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