Seemingly intent on spurring installs of "Mitt's VP," a mobile app unveiled last week that will be the channel for the official announcement of Mitt Romney's running mate, the Romney camp began promoting it with Google search ads and Facebook newsfeed ads targeted to mobile users recently.
Searches on an iPhone or an Android device for the Romney campaign's presumptive top choices like Chris Christie, Condoleezza Rice and Tim Pawlenty are currently generating an ad with the text "Download Mitt's VP App & Be the First to Know!" Clicking on the link sends users to either the App Store or to Google Play where they can download the app, which can ultimately alert them to Mr. Romney's choice with a push notification.
The click-to-download ads utilize a new mobile app extension that Google rolled out in April that enables search advertisers to target to specific mobile operating systems -- even specific devices -- on top of other existing targeting criteria like location. A Google spokesman confirmed that Mitt Romney's team is the first political campaign to use it.
The decision to announce Mr. Romney's vice-presidential pick via smartphone push notification looked like a way to build excitement around the candidate and his ultimate big reveal, akin to how Barack Obama's 2008 campaign announced it would announce his running mate via text message, though a New York Times story ultimately beat them to the punch.
Mr. Romney's app could be seen as more focused on generating PR, since nearly half of U.S. mobile subscribers don't own smartphones. However, the effort to advertise the app by capitalizing on the mounting volume of searches being conducted about the vice-presidential contenders suggests the campaign is serious about spurring installs.
The Romney campaign declined to comment yesterday on how many times "Mitt's VP" has been installed, though a graphic on the app's Google Play page indicates that installs have tailed off sharply since the app was announced, when it was widely covered by both the tech and political press.