Obama Campaign Saw “Ridiculously” High ROI from Google Ads

February 10th, 2009

Cross-posted on techPresident

Another tip from the Obama campaign: take a solid look at search advertising. At two recent public discussions, members of the winning 2008 new media team have mentioned the effectiveness of Google ads in building the campaign’s list of supporters, volunteers and donors. Email team head Stephen Geer alluded to it in passing in a RootsCamp presentation, describing search advertising as having a “ridiculously” high Return On Investment as a list-builder. Joe Rospars talked significantly more at a second NOI-sponsored event last month, divulging that search and contextual ads (Google Ads) were the backbone of the campaign’s online advertising outreach, and that a relatively straightforward strategy had been steadily and consistently effective.

Here’s the real kicker: when compared with the cost of acquiring supporters via other channels, search advertising absolutely shone, with an ROI Rospars described as approaching 15:1. With contextual ads targeted primarily to sign up new supporters, the core of the campaign’s strategy was the obvious “Barack Obama” search, though they did use some issue- and news-cycle-targeted keywords. The new media team bought display advertising significantly less than they did search ads, and focused the display piece of the puzzle more on measurable goals such as list-building than on amorphous “influence-the-discussion” ad runs.

The Obamans weren’t the first in the political space to benefit from Google Ad-driven list-building, and they’re absolutely not going to be the last. Not all electoral and advocacy campaigners will be as lucky as Rospars, who was a selling a rock star with a transformative public presence, so not everyone’s mileage will be as good. And, the rest of us may need to branch out a bit in our use of creative search terms. But, carefully targeted search ads should be a tool high on the list for just about any political communicator.

More from members of the Obama campaign staff on the structure of the new media team, the importance of good content (particularly video) and the use of grassroots data in allocating resources in real-time.


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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. links for 2009-02-12 &hellip  |  February 12th, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    [...] e.politics: online advocacy tools & tactics » Obama Campaign Saw “Ridiculously” High ROI fr… [...]

  • 2. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    [...] debates, but they focused on the practical goal of list-building. And that meant search ads: new media team head Joe Rospars has said that search ads yielded a Return On Investment of 10- or 15…, presumably measured in campaign contributions. And though they purchased ads on some issue-based [...]

  • 3. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  March 26th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    [...] Obama Campaign Saw “Ridiculously” High ROI from Google Ads [...]

  • 4. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  March 29th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    [...] Obama campaign staff reporting a “ridiculously” high Return On Investment for list-building search ads and Google giving Grants to nonprofit advocacy groups like a crack dealer handing out freebies in a [...]

  • 5. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  September 28th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    [...] program can pay for itself (as the Obama campaign proved), and many campaigns have found the Return On Investment from targeted Google Ads to be surprisingly [...]

  • 6. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  October 6th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    [...] political space, particularly as a recruiting tool. The Obama campaign for instance found that they yielded a three- or four-fold Return On Investment (occasionally as high as ten- or fifteen-fold) when measured in terms of donations received from a [...]

  • 7. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  December 8th, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    [...] Obama Campaign Saw “Ridiculously” High ROI from Google Ads [...]

  • 8. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  April 29th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    [...] to our original question, which should a campaign concentrate on? I’d recommend both — Google Ads have a powerful ROI, something that’s been proven again and again by campaigns trying to build up a fundraising [...]

  • 9. e.politics: online advoca&hellip  |  January 24th, 2011 at 12:27 am

    [...] Ads, which a number of groups have used to build their supporter and donor lists. In practice, Google Ads have turned out to have an excellent Return On Investment when used to build fundraising [...]

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