Sloppy Web Buys May Turn Off Campaign Managers

Political Ads Show Up in Strange Places

By Published on .

Evan Tracey Evan Tracey
In last week's New York Times there was a great A1 story titled Your Ad Here: Web Surprise Hits 08 Race. The Jim Rutenberg story was about the pitfalls of web advertising in the 2008 Presidential election, and in the piece was the tale of misfortune involving the Romney campaign's web efforts. Illustrating the Wild West nature of web advertising, the story detailed how some Romney campaign ads mistakenly appeared on sites like, a site not believed to be frequented by the GOP base voter that the campaign is aggressively courting.

The Romney campaign's mistake was likely due to a web ad-network buy in which the network included items the campaign didn't necessarily want. Barack Obama, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are among those who've made similar stumbles. And while each example may serve as a learning experience while doing minimal harm to the campaigns, they can cause a lot of headaches for campaign spins-meisters.

The bigger story here is that campaigns have yet another reason to shun web ads.

More than anything else, campaigns like to maintain total control. So any loss of control is viewed as a weakness or a distraction. With the Romney web ad mishap now documented and part of the process-obsessed campaign community that runs political campaigns, it will now become a cautionary tale told by media consultants and others to clients who ask the dreaded question "What about doing web advertising?" I can hear them now telling clients that the campaign doesn't want to end up on the wrong site, you can't trust the web and let's stick to posting video on YouTube.

Hopefully I am wrong.

Don't look now Mr. Campaign manager, but your yard sign is in front of the local whore house!

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Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.
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