Couldn’t resist snatching a look at what the two major parties are doing in the digital realm for this election. This election was supposed to be the big digital one taking cues from Obamas election in ‘08 but so far both parties are doing just ‘enough’ with the Libs marginally ahead. A classic example was the morning after the PM’s solo appearance on ABC’s Q&A show when Google searches for the Labor party and the PM were expected to spike. On this day however, the ruling party was conspicuous by its absence allowing its competitor to easily capture all those searches of Labor followers or potential fence-sitters. Searches conducted on Tuesday for ‘labor party’ and ‘julia gillard’ brought up paid ads instead by the Liberal Party attacking Labor failures. The Liberal party has obviously cleverly included in its list, Labor party brand terms and the names of Labors leaders ensuring users typing those terms see a Liberal Party ppc ad instead. The ads also use the recently launched Sitelinks format which offers users multiple links to click on to enable voters to explore different facets of the Liberal Party’s campaign.
Paid search (PPC) can be effectively used in an election as messages can be updated and put live within hours in response to trending election themes or breaking news. PPC formats allow Election Campaign managers a low cost environment to test and run multiple messages which can serve as a far more credible means of testing concepts than traditional focus groups. Enhanced formats like Sitelinks allow Campaign Managers to integrate their offline and social media components into the Search strategy. Tailored messages can also be used focusing on the most relevant issues for different geographies eg states and cities in contrast to traditional advertising’s one message must fit all. With only a handful of major parties buying search terms in Australia, the costs of setting up running an effective search campaign would be far less expensive than buying primetime radio or television spots.
Google has set up its own page covering the Australian Federal Election which tracks election search trends on the major parties, leaders and issues along with links to a Google Map mashup to find polling booths and Electoral bases in your surburb.