Archive for July, 2011

Obama Twitter Account Gets Aggressive in Debt Battle

Interesting development: @barackobama, which has almost 10 million followers and is run by the President’s re-election campaign, is explicitly asking supporters to Tweet at their Congressmembers. And, they’re naming names and giving addresses:

Tennessee voters: Tweet @SenAlexander and @senbobcorker and ask them to compromise on a balanced deficit solution. (link)

Texas Republican reps on Twitter: @replouiegomert (TX-01), @jodgetedpoe (TX-02), @samspressshop (TX-03), @rephensarling (TX-05). (link)

This may have happened before, but I sure haven’t seen it lately — most of the recent traffic on the Obama feed has focused on campaign events or feel-good moments like the women’s soccer World Cup, not on in-your-face advocacy. The Congressmembers themselves are deeply entrenched in their positions, meaning that even a few thousand Tweets lobbed their way aren’t likely to budge them a bit, but these messages (particularly any from constituents) will be a visible show of support for the President’s position in a public venue. Which, as we’ve discussed before, is an opportunity Democrats have gone out of their way to miss lately.

Welcome to the best game of all, @barackobama — politics.

Update: The NY Daily News is making a big deal out of the fact that Obama’s lost some 40,000 followers since his Twitter feed got aggressive. 40k out of 9.4-ish million? That’s less than one half of one percent — which sounds like small change to me. And if these folks didn’t want to get messages from something that resembles an actual political campaign, what good were they to him anyway?


Add comment July 29th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Google Plus for Advocacy: More Resources and a Tuesday Webinar

Digital maven and veteran activist Ivan Boothe has sent over an invitation to what promises to be an excellent examination of the implications of Google+ for political advocacy, along with a comprehensive list of related articles (including the early overview — thanks, Ivan!). Both the invitation and the article list are reprinted below for your enjoyment. FYI, I’m now on Google+ if you want to connect in that brave new land.

Google Plus for Nonprofits and Social Change

Tuesday, Aug. 2
6:30 PM US-EDT (UTC-4)


3 comments July 29th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

C is for Cookie: Why Do I Keep Seeing the Same Allen West Political Ad?

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s Great Guest Author Roundup, a new stallion has joined the herd! Check out Derek Pangallo’s political advertising extravaganza below, inspired by an Allen West ad on Today’s Part One focuses on cookie-based political ad retargeting and originally appeared on; we’re promised a Part Two soon.

Why Do I Keep Seeing the Same Political Ad?

By Derek Pangallo

Browsing around over at, an online political advocacy blog by Colin Delany, I was treated to the Allen West ad you see on the right.

This is the first in a two-part series on political advertising. In this post, I’ll focus on Adwords, Adsense, and retargeting cookies. In part two I’ll tear apart this ad in particular, and talk about the best ways to solicit online donations. Also have a look at my album of Facebook political ads.

If you didn’t know, Congressman West is the controversial Tea Party Freshman member of The House of Representatives for Florida’s 22nd district. Most recently he’s been criticized for sending a scathing email to fellow Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, a gentle lady also from Florida.

One more quick disambiguation: Adsense is the Google service used to make money from ads on your site. Adwords is the Google service used to buy and place ads on the ‘net. Today, 97% of Google’s revenue comes from Adwords (down from 99% in 2008).

Why am I seeing the Allen West ad?

Colin didn’t make a deal with Allen West to put this ad on his site. He added Javascript from Google Adsense that automatically finds and displays ads “relevant” to the content of his site. When the ads get clicked, Colin makes some money in his Google Adsense account [Ed. note: not nearly enough!].

How are ads targeted?

Adwords advertisers can specifically target their ads, like the West billboard. Millions of sites use Adsense to make money, so there is many a niche to be found. You can specify what keywords should be on the sites where your ad will be shown, explicitly exclude sites (that might not be favorable to you), and narrow users by their physical location. There are plenty of pre-formatted geographies to choose from, like state, city, county, etc., but you can also draw your own area for the ad to be shown. In this case I’m making an ad to be shown just to people who live and/or work “inside the beltway”:

So to take a long way to answer the question, I am probably seeing this ad because team West is targeting ads toward users in DC who are surfing political-related sites. Good on ya. But, there is one more devious and highly-effective trick that the advertisers may be employing: retargeting cookies.


5 comments July 28th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Feasting on the Brains of the Young

Mmmmmm, delicious brains…tonight I’m heading over to Georgetown to talk with one of Alan Rosenblatt’s grad classes on digital politics. These discussions are usually great, and I typically learn at least as much from the students as they do from me, which is ideal in my book.

And in tonight’s conversation, “my book” is exactly what I’ll have in mind, at least the e-book variety — I’ve seen a steady uptick in traffic to both the Obama campaign book and “Winning in 2010″ over the last couple of months, which makes sense as 2012 gets closer. The Obama book stands as-is, since it’s a look back at What Happened, but it’s time to put out a new version of “Winning,” this time focused on, you guessed it, using the internet to win in the 2012 elections. I’m planning to get together with a bunch of folks in the field over the next few weeks to gather perspectives, and the first set of ideas I plan to steal are those of Alan’s students. Mmmmmm, delicious brains….


Add comment July 28th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Sending Out a Little Love to Our Guest Authors

Hi folks, the other day I started wondering just how many people had contributed content to since the site launched, so I decided to go diggin’. It turns out that sizable bunch of kick-ass experts have shared their wisdom with us over the years — 23 24! guest authors in total, assuming I didn’t miss anybody. Here they are, roughly in reverse-order of when they started writing for the site, along with a link to a representative article (many have written more than once). Wouldn’t you just love to be among their number? Drop me a note with some ideas and let’s chat.

And of course, the very first guest author of all:

Thanks everybody! You’ve made this a much better and more complete publication than it ever would have been as the product of a single person. Now, how’s that next article coming along?


1 comment July 27th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Rep. David Wu vs. The World: Taiwanese Animation Wins

Ah, Next Media Animation, thank you for brightening our lives with your utterly inappropriate and completely bizarre depictions of the news of the day. Tiger suits rule! As do floating hot dogs. Also note Wu’s epic birth, and his apparent ability to transform magically into a bear when menacing women.

Via Fishbowl DC. Fortunately, we won’t have Congressman Wu to kick around around any more, assuming he follows through on his word and resigns. Though I suspect that The Law may still have a little bit to ask him about.


Add comment July 26th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Response to Obama Budget Speech Overwhelms Congressional Websites

Last night’s dueling Obama/Boehner speeches settled at least one matter: when the President asks people to contact Congress, Congress can’t handle it:

Monday night and Tuesday morning checks of the websites of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., showed a “Server is too busy” response on an otherwise blank screen, as did the House Ways and Means Committee website on Tuesday morning. Boehner’s separate representative site was down on Monday night, also, though the district and House Majority Leader sites of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., were working.

In his article, National Journal’s David Beard also reports that the Congressional phone system almost joined those websites and others in crashing, but that Twitter survived (thank god). So Congressmembers could use social media to send messages OUT to constituents, though I doubt they could listen to many of them in return (comments on Boehner’s Facebook post about his speech already number above 4000).

Website go boom? Hey kids, time to upgrade that infrastructure! Oh, wait — that would cost money.


2 comments July 26th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

The Republican Presidential Contenders, Social Media and Voter Mobilization

How can Romney, Bachmann, Cain, Pawlenty, Paul, et al, use digital channels to find supporters and put them to work? Get three expert perspectives in the video discussion below, which features friends-of-Epolitics Julie Germany, Mike Turk and Katie Harbath. The moderator? NBC’s Chuck Todd, for whom I built the Hotline Scoop website when he was at National Journal back in 1999. DC’s a small town….

A little too much of the early conversation focuses on an “innovative” Facebook/NBC online debate scheduled for early 2012 for my tastes, but Julie, Mike, Katie and Chuck do get to spend plenty of time talking about fundraising, media filtering and information overload, volunteer mobilization, social media best practices and a lot more.

Also on the Republican internet campaign front, check out Dave Weigel’s coverage of a Tea Party-oriented candidate Twitter debate, which he calls “the most dignity-shredding, IQ-lowering pseudo-event of the campaign so far,” and Kate Kaye’s look at Republicans’ online ad spending.


Add comment July 22nd, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

Democrats See Online Fundraising Gold in Rep. Allen West

Guess what: people tend to give money when they’re all riled up. This week’s example? When Republican Rep. Allen West blew up via email at Democratic colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Tuesday, saying, “You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives… you are not a Lady,” Democratic fundraisers must have broken records sprinting to their computers to crank out emails. Both the DCCC and Emily’s List zapped out messages to their lists on Wednesday, for example, hoping to convert activist anger into money in the bank.

Yes, those fleeting moments can be fundraising gold — remember that the biggest single day of political giving came after Sarah Palin insulted community organizers in her speech to the Republican convention in 2008, when tens of thousands of Democrats responded by flooding Barack Obama’s coffers with cash. Of course, this calculation can cut both ways, since West has also sent out a plea for donations to HIS supporters.

In any case, not all political fundraising attempts to capitalize on a moment’s emotion, but it still never hurts to have an opponent who angers your base. Case in point: Rick Santorum is asking for money to fight sex columnist Dan Savage’s successful (and hilarious) campaign to, um, rebrand the former Senator by asking bloggers to link his name to descriptions of, well, why don’t you just Google it yourself. Good luck, Rick! You’ll need it — The People have spoken.

Finally, another example of capitalizing on the moment — remember that post on Newt Gingrich’s veeeeery expensive website? Because I was early out of the gate on that one, and also carefully incorporated the words “Newt Gingrich,” “website” and “$800,000″ in the article title, Google has rewarded me with many hundreds of new visitors over the past couple of days, at least doubling the site’s traffic over that period. We’ll see how many of them stick around and say howdy (I doubt many of the random curious are digital politics enthusiasts), but it’s a good example of why a fast response to a breaking story can make a huge difference. In this case, it made the article the top Google search result on the issue, which does not hurt one bit.


1 comment July 21st, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on

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