Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Did a "Google Surge" Help Creigh Deeds Conquer Northern Virginia?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 10 2009

Could one secret to Creigh Deeds' stunning triumph over his better-known and better-funded opponents Terry McAuliffe and Jim Moran in yesterday's Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia have been a tactical Google ad buy aimed at voters in that state's Washington DC suburbs? As the dust settles from Deeds' stunning demolition of his opponents in yesterday's contest, Google is suggesting that a savvy online ad strategy helped to push the rural Virginian ahead of his northern Virginian opponents.

Deeds, a state senator, hails from rural Bath County, Virginia, saddled up against the West Virginia border. Moran and McAuliffe, meanwhile, make their homes in the Washington DC suburbs. But that didn't stop Deeds from stomping his adversaries on their home turf. In Arlington County, for example, Deeds beat Moran and McAuliffe 47% to their 37% and 16%. In Loudoun County, Deeds pulled in the same slice of the electorate and left Moran and McAuliffe with the rest. In Fairfax County, Deeds got a full half of the vote, leaving McAuliffe 21% and Moran 16% -- despite the fact that Deeds was described by the Washington Post in their May 22nd endorsement of him as "an unassuming state senator from a district closer to West Virginia than to Fairfax City." Deeds wiped the floor with Moran in the district Moran's own brother -- the powerful congressman and House Appropriations Committee member Jim Moran -- has represented for nearly twenty years.

That glowing Washington Post endorsement was, in fact, what the Deeds campaign highlighted in its targeted Google ad -- and in particular its linking of Deeds to popular Virginia governors past and present Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Deeds placed visual ads in high-profile online publications like the Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, and the Post itself. Those ads, though, weren't served up to just any-old-body; they were geo-targeted to only Northern Virginia and Washington DC -- the latter to capture commuters who work in the District but vote in the commonwealth. Google calls the technique a "network blast." It's more commonly known as a "Google Surge," as Kate Kaye detailed in the context of the Scott Murphy congressional race in New York.

When asked, one online ad specialist and contact suggests to me that is a key to understanding Deeds' use of the Google Surge is exactly that Post endorsement -- and the Deeds campaign's tremendous and unexpected momentum it represented. As the campaign closed, Deeds was enjoying an spike of interest the other candidates could only drool over. Google's Insight for Search tool, for example, reveals that searches for Deeds' name originating from the Virginia on Monday were fully twice as numerous as those for Moran or McAuliffe's names. Deeds sudden popularity, says the ad expert, opened up prime beachfront real estate like the Journal and Post for Deeds in the Google ad network. That's because a mostly pay-per-click model made political ads begin to make more financial sense for the company as Deeds became the subject of a surging public interest. It was a win for Google, and a win for Deeds -- in more ways than one.

 

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

GO

tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

GO

monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

GO

The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

GO

More