So a little while ago, the Canadian Liberal Party bid on the names of candidates running against their own candidates, and those who clicked on the ads found themselves Liberal Party pages. The problem was, however, was that the PPC campaign seemed to lack direction. As one SEOer noted:

The Liberals clearly have no measurable goals for the ads and site to achieve. […]

From what I can tell, the Liberals are just buying search engine advertising in order to get exposure and to project an image of a technologically inclined party.

This all, of course, begs the question: how to effectively leverage PPC advertising toward substantial electoral gains? Well, when it comes to the party’s national campaign, it’s by paying close attention to four variable: (1) keywords; (2) geo-targeting; (3) relevant landing pages; and (4) timing.

How to Get Started
Every electoral campaign is dominated by certain key issues, and it is on these issues that parties have the potential to leverage PPC advertising in their favor. So first they should compile a list of keywords that relate to the issues that are dominating the race.

Second, electoral (PPC) campaign organizers need to determine what they want voters to find when they are running searches on these issues and develop landing pages accordingly. The party’s homepage isn’t going to cut it. Parties need to develop informative, impressive, and persuasive content pages that are going to reflect the kind of information that voters are expecting to find through an organic search. Of course, these pages should also get the party’s message on that issue across.

Third, PPC electoral campaign managers are going to have to decide on the exact nature of those landing pages. While it’s not exactly legal to conceal ownership/sponsorship, users are often looking for objective facts. The party might therefore want to consider using a personal touch to woo the electorate. If the party has a particular personality or candidate who has been championing a certain issue, then they might want to put that candidate’s stamp on the landing pages. Conversely, if that personality is particularly unpopular in certain ridings/districts, the party might consider using geo-targeting to provide voters in those regions with different landing pages (see step #5).

The fourth step would be to set up accounts with both Google and Yahoo. These are the two biggest players in search, and campaign organizers should divide their budget along the lines of approximately how many searches each one processes (about 2/3 Google, and 1/3 Yahoo).

Fifth, party campaign organizers need to actually bid on the keywords they’ve selected. Most importantly, they need to remember to geo target these ads. First, they need to make sure that these ads are only showing up on searches being conducted in their country. Secondly, if there are particular regions where the party is losing ground on certain issues, they might want to have more of their ads for keywords relevant to those issues being displayed to users in those regions. Similarly, geo-targeting can be used to ensure that voters in different ridings are directed to landing pages that are custom tailored for the demographics of that riding (as per step #3).

Fifth, campaign organizers need to consider the timing and time-frame of these campaigns. Unless campaign organizers are willing to sink a considerable investment into their PPC electoral campaign, it should be reserved for the closing weeks of the race — maybe the last 1-2 weeks leading up to polling day. Otherwise, such a campaign could get pretty expensive.

Finally, and also because of cost concerns, it is best to reserve PPC campaigning for the most contentious issues and only in riding where the race is most competitive. Unlike commercially motivated PPC ads, it is difficult to measure the conversion rate of these ads. Consequently, it becomes difficult to test and tweak your keyword bids and the content of your landing pages. This is also why geo targeting is so important.

All in all, the rules for a successful national level PPC electoral campaign are pretty much the same as those for running any successful PPC campaign: (1) choose the right keywords; (2) use geo-targeting your ads according to market/electorate demographics; and (3) design relevant landing pages. Since there’s not certain way to measure conversion rates (i.e. ROI), however, party campaigner just might want to be a bit more selective about what issues they bid on keywords for, and for how long they run those campaigns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *