Google AdWords Paid Search Advertising In Close 2006 US Senate Races


To observe the use of paid search advertising in the final hours of the 2006 US midterm elections, we queried Google for the names of candidates running in swing Senate races. We observed:

  • Political pay-per-click advertisers use Google. Few political advertisers use Yahoo Paid Search.
  • There are few political advertisers: the average search results page for queries in this study returned only 3.7 ads.
  • The most prevalent advertisers within this query set were Accoona (search engine), (social networking), CafePress (retailer), and (National Republican Senatorial Committee).
  • "Red" ads (pro-Republican or anti-Democrat) outnumbered "blue ads" (pro-Democrat or anti-Republican) two-to-one.
  • Blue ads were three times more likely to be negative than red ads.
  • No campaign ads referenced President Bush.
  • Iraq and Al-Qaeda were only mentioned only twice (, against Jim Webb)
  • Only two ads linked directly to videos (against George Allen: "macaca" and prescription drugs).
  • Blue ads were longer than red ads. There was no difference in the length of words in blue and red ads.
  • Blue ads were more likely to include an exclamation point. Red ads were more likely to contain a question mark.

We conclude that paid political advertising on the search engines is still in its infancy. Note the cost of search advertising is a fraction of the cost of television advertising, yet often has comparable reach.

We anticipate search engine marketing will become increasingly prevalent to the American political process in coming elections. In the 2008 elections, we predict political advertisers will completely fill the paid search spots on the first page of Google search results pages; political advertisers will advertise heavily on Yahoo; political advertisers will use more video; and Democrats will increase spending to match Republicans.


Initiative Process will follow

A quick look at the California initiative process would lead you to believe they will take advantage of CPC more as well.

On the other hand, most of us turn to the Internet to get information beyond the ads bombarding our mailbox and our TV screen. Anyone out there know whether web users are clicking on these ads at all?

study link

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