Apathetic voters might be in for a rude awakening. Last week free e-mail provider Juno Online Services unveiled Juno Advocacy Network, which will open its ad-targeting capabilities to lobbying and advocacy groups.
Lobbying groups representing everything from politicians to labor unions will be able to reach Juno's 4.6 million members with pop-up ads targeted by congressional district, age, gender, hobbies, income and other demographic data.
"Juno members will [then] be able to initiate conversation with their representatives and that message will go out instantly," said Juno President Charles Ardai.
Ads on Juno start at $25 per thousand impressions, while targeted ads start at a $50 CPM and go up to a $75 CPM for in-depth targeting. Some pop-up banners would likely include a sample letter to congressional representatives, which can be personalized, urging them to vote on a particular issue. More expensive packages could include follow-up surveys with constituents, which could be e-mailed or sent via banners, pop-up ads or interstitials. The surveys could track constituents' opinions on issues and tell them how a political representative has voted.
POLITICAL PARTIES NEXT
Juno will expand the service to political parties, Mr. Ardai said. The service, he added, could be adapted for state political groups as well, as long as their positions fit Juno's policy, which prohibits tobacco and pornography ads.
Several groups have expressed interest in using the Advocacy Network, including Lynn Reed, president of Netpoliticsgroup, who designs sites for Democratic candidates and managed the Clinton/Gore re-election Web site. "The concept is very intriguing," Ms. Reed said, adding Juno was the first service she found that allowed political groups to finely target ads online.
For instance, she said, Juno members from Florida could be cross-matched against a state voter file to come up with political-minded constituents.
Compared to the price of traditional media, the Juno service is inexpensive and fast, said Roger Stone, director of the Juno Advocacy Network and formerly with the Washington-based firm James & Hoffman, and served as legislative counsel for Federal Law Enforcement Officers. Mr. Stone said advertising with Juno is one-quarter the price of direct mail, and one-fortieth the cost of generating a phone call with a constituent and his or her representative. Professional phone banks charge up to $40 for every caller they're able to connect with a representative, he said.
"It will be a lot cheaper and a lot more effective," than traditional media, said Howard Marlowe of Marlowe & Co., which represents lobbying groups such as the pilots union for United Parcel Service.
ONE OF FEW IN CATEGORY
With direct marketing campaigns, "it's hard to get people to open their mail."
The Juno demographics appear "to be a fairly broad client base," he added. "Time will tell whether it's going to be an effective demographic group to reach out to or not--but my guess is it is."
So far, Juno seems to be one of few in the e-mail business selling political advertising. Steve Suslow, director of sales, at free. Web-based e-mail service USA.Net, said it would consider it if the ads were in good taste. But political advertising "just hasn't been an area we've focused on, or an area anyone has approached us about to date," Mr. Suslow said.
"I think it's a compelling concept," added Eric Belcher, VP-advertising sales at e-mail publisher InfoBeat. "At this point in time, it's not something on our radar screen--we haven't seen a demonstration of the dollars being there to warrant that type of effort."
Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.