Diary

Freedom Works Targets Blue Dogs with Stealth Google Ad Campaign

More of this, please:

The conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks is launching a search engine advertising campaign this week targeting all 49 of the fiscally conservative House Democrats, either criticizing or applauding them for how they voted on the stimulus package. The organization is buying spots in Google’s “Sponsored Links” column, which appears alongside searches for the lawmakers’ names.

Don’t be surprised if, in the comfort of your Capitol Hill office, a search for your name turns up no ads. FreedomWorks is using Google AdWords to geographically target ads so they only appear for Web users in the relevant congressional districts. This “geo-targeting,” plus the fact that the ads won’t necessarily appear for every search, makes it difficult to confirm the extent of the ad buy…

It will also be the longest. Keeley said FreedomWorks plans to keep up the pressure by buying up search terms until Election Day 2010. Downballot races will provide the group with even more opportunities for search engine advertising. Greenberger said there is already an increased use of Internet advertising in local races, something made easier and cheaper by geographical targeting.

This is great news for several reasons. First, it demonstrates that conservatives are continuing to adapt to, and take advantage of, web-based campaigning. In the case of these Freedom Works ads, people see the ads even if they don’t click through. That helps reinforce both a brand and a message.

Second, because the size of the buy is not disclosed, and because it shows up only in the district of a Blue Dog, it is essentially impossible for the targeted Congressman to know how many people are seeing the ads — let alone responding to them. They don’t know what theme may be the next one used in such an ad campaign, either. Therefore they need to be more cautious generally — and they can’t ever be sure that they’re ‘immunizing’ themselves properly against the attack.

I hope that more groups like Freedom Works try innovative approaches like this one.