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Using Google Mobile Advertising to Catch Voters Waiting at the Polls

BY Colin Delany | Monday, August 30 2010

Cross-published from Epolitics.com

Update: See also Kate Kaye's earlier coverage at ClickZ.

Politico's Morning Tech column has highlighted a clever use of mobile advertising in last week's Florida primaries:

As the Sunshine State headed to the polls yesterday, down-ballot candidates bought Google online ads on mobile geo-targeted to specific districts, hoping to capture people who are doing last-minute research while waiting in line at the polls. Democratic State Senator and Attorney General hopeful Dan Gelber, who easily won his primary, used mobile Google ads for a 24-hour blitz on primary day. Lisa Small, likely soon to be declared winner of her circuit court judge race, also used the strategy, Google told us.

"For us, the biggest distinguishing factor is that every major newspaper in the state endorsed Gelber, so that's a message we could get to voters in a few words in an ad, catching their attention on their phones as they're going into the polls," Christian Ulvert, Gelber's campaign aide, told us. "Lower voter turnout was expected, so we turned to the digital world."

Talk about in-the-moment targeting -- these ads were aimed at people getting ready to vote, quite possibly as they were standing in the booth and looking up unfamiliar candidates on their cell phones at the last minute. We can imagine the kind of queries that these candidates might have purchased, for instance "voter guides," "election," "voting" and of course the candidates' own names and those of their opponents (the folks at Google could no doubt help, since they could dig up information about what search terms people tend to use when they're researching candidates).

I'd be curious to see how much an effort like this cost, both in the aggregate and per-click, and also how many people actually responded -- though also note that a candidate's ad would function as a virtual yard sign even if the viewer doesn't click it. Obviously this tactic is about as niche an approach as you're going to see, but particularly in a close race that hasn't received much publicity, a handful of last-minute converts might make all the difference. Florida politics: taking late-cycle persuasion advertising to the limit!

cpd

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