The 2008 election ushered in a new era of political campaigns, with digital media playing an unprecedented role in helping elect President Barack Obama. Campaign New Media Director Joe Rospars called Google the "backbone of the campaign's online advertising outreach".1 Using a combination of search and contextual advertising, a YouTube Brand Channel, Google Analytics, Google Checkout, and Google Docs, President Obama's new media team was able to effectively fundraise, communicate, mobilize, and measure2. The results? Email team head Stephen Geer says search advertising led to a "ridiculously" high return on investment of fifteen to one.3
As agencies on the forefront of digital marketing, what of our president’s online strategies can you replicate to help your clients meet their ROI goals? Here are some vital questions to ask and best practices:
1. Is your client's primary goal a purchase or donation? Make it easy for supporters to donate by featuring shopping cart buttons front and center on the landing page. Take it one step further and promote integration with Google Checkout, as the Obama campaign did on its YouTube channel.
2. Has your client received publicity (either good or bad)? Use search ads to maximize the impact of positive publicity and to help with issue management when negative news emerges. The Obama team did this throughout the campaign, effectively updating search ad text to capitalize on the stories that were leading the news.
3. Is your client looking for new ways to reach potential customers? Expand the user base and support consumer engagement through social media and YouTube. The Obama campaign leveraged YouTube by regularly posting fresh video content and allowing viewers to comment on and share results. See for yourself, here:
4. Does your client need to drive local offline action? The Obama campaign effectively pushed supporters to attend rallies and get out the vote, with geo-targeted search and display ads that provided localized information.4 If your client has localized or offline objectives, you can support them by promoting business locations through search ads, Local Business Ads, and listing in the Local Business Center.
5. Are your client's campaigns running successfully? Always be sure to measure success with tools such as Google Analytics, and use the data to make improvements.
 and  “The 2008 Google Docs Campaign,” Eric Kuhn, The Huffington Post, February 1, 2009 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kuhn/the-2008-google-docs-camp_b_162958.html
 "Obama Saw Ridiculously High ROI from Google Ads", Colin Delaney, TechPresident, February 2, 2009 http://www.techpresident.com/blog/entry/33718/obama_campaign_saw_ridiculously_high_roi_from_google_ads
 The New York Times, A1, Sunday, March 2, 2008; "Spending Heavily, Obama Attempts Knockout Blow"
Posted by Peter Greenberger, Elections & Issue Advocacy Team