Could Obama Buy Lead to Local Ad Boom?

In what could prove a great test case of marketing effectiveness, the Obama campaign purchased premium ad space on 26 locally oriented web sites in Texas and Ohio ahead of the states’ primaries on March 4th. And in a first, the Flash-powered “sliding billboard” ads include video segments.


The sites selected include those run by local television and radio broadcasters and newspaper publishers, such as the Akron Beacon Journal’s (screenshot above). Clicking on a link from the Ohio ad brought me to a page that also features a video of Obama asking voters to see if they can vote ahead of election day on Tuesday.

While measuring the effectiveness of the advertising push isn’t as easy as simply watching the poll results, this kind of bold move can’t hurt — especially since the ads effectively displace any similar effort by the Clinton campaign.

The billboard campaign was brokered through Centro, according to MediaWeek. Further, the campaign tapped Broadband Enterprises to place 30-second video spots alongside video content on the local sites.

And the buy may turn out to be an ever better bargain than the flush Obama campaign expected. Preliminary details of research commissioned by Hearst-Argyle (which owns 26 local affiliates and 30 companion web sites) and conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates reports that local news video viewing is stronger than cable news, primetime shows, reality shows or broadcast news.

The findings also indicate that viewers watching local news online are relatively affluent and early adopters of other video technologies such as DVRs and HDTVs — which is a rich vein to tap for political donations heading into the general election.

If the Obama campaign ads prove effective in influencing voter turnout and help lead to an Obama victory, look for businesses to follow suit — which could be a boon to local television affiliates and newspapers worried about declining advertising revenue in their traditional mediums.