Here's one way YouTube is getting more like TV: negative political ads. The latest, "Firms" from President Barack Obama, takes the No. 3 spot on the Viral Video Chart this week and is the first political ad to make the top 10 this election season.
In "Firms," an ad also getting heavy TV rotation, the president jabs at Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital and charges that the company shipped jobs overseas. The ad also accuses Mr. Romney of having millions in offshore bank accounts and outsourcing state jobs to India while he was governor of Massachusetts. And all of this is put to the tune of Mr. Romney's own rendition of "America the Beautiful".
The ad debuted on last week's Chart at the No. 10 spot with over 600,000 views. This week it climbed up the rankings with 1.4 million views. Visible Measures notes that of those views, 150,000 were a result of paid media. "Firms" also ran on TV in nine swing states.
The video was released two weeks ago as the media was starting to question why Mr. Romney refuses to release more than two years of tax returns and benefitted from all of the media coverage surrounding Mr. Romney's personal finances. Mr. Romney also created some buzz for the video when he called it "reckless" and "absurd" and demanded an apology from the president.
The ad, which is targeted at independent voters who are considered crucial votes in the election, has a two-pronged strategy. First, remind voters that Mr. Romney is a wealthy man (20% of voters say that his wealth makes them less likely to vote for him, according to a Gallup poll). Then plant seeds of doubt about his past, so that voters question how well they know him. It is a strategy that can be seen throughout the president's entire campaign.
Whether or not the ad is helping the president, however, is still hard to tell. Especially, since there has also been a lot of criticism of his tactics.
In his favor, a Pew poll completed Tuesday shows that among independent voters 37% said they would like to learn more about Mr. Romney's activities at Bain and 42% would like to hear more about his record as governor. In addition, a recent study by Vanderbilt University and YouGov showed that approval of Mr. Romney dropped to three from 16 points among independent voters after watching "Firms."