Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I think they meant to say "direct to Internet" .. it is hard for a newspaper to say that WORD

Obama, McCain campaigns create ads that go directly to video
09:22 AM CDT on Tuesday, October 7, 2008
By KAREN BROOKS / The Dallas Morning News kmbrooks@dallasnews.com
AUSTIN – A campaign ad featuring Charlton Heston as Moses and mocking Barack Obama as the "anointed" one was never a TV commercial at all – yet millions of people saw it.
On Monday, Mr. Obama's campaign launched a 13-minute Web video outlining Mr. McCain's ties to Charles Keating, a banker eventually sent to prison for his role in a savings-and-loan scandal in the 1980s and early 1990s. Within eight hours, a half-million people had viewed the preview on YouTube pointing them to the Obama Web site for the full documentary.
And other than production costs, neither campaign had to spend a dime to put these messages before millions of voters.
"That is sort of the Holy Grail" of political advertising, said Aaron Smith, a research specialist at the Pew Center's Internet and American Life Project.
Web videos like "The One," which was picked up as news by the networks after the Obama camp dismissed it as "juvenile antics," and "Keating Economics," which made news before it was even released, have become the norm in a presidential race that has already broken new ground in cyber-campaigning.
They let voters in places like Texas – a solidly Republican state where neither campaign is advertising – stay tuned to what the campaigns are doing and stay in touch with each candidate's message. For campaigns, they create buzz with very little cost or effort.
Honing attacks
And in the final 30 days of the election, they allow the campaigns to hone their attacks with more value for their money. Just for its length alone, the Keating video would be difficult to get on television – and even if it could be done, the cost would be prohibitive.
"What the Internet has done by free-video sites is provided them a way to get their message out to a huge number of people and get it out for free," said Jeff Emanuel, president of Lighthouse Strategies and Consulting and a director emeritus of a leading conservative blog, RedState.com. "Then, when mainstream media or TV stations pick it up, not only does it get seen by a million people on the Internet, but it gets seen by millions of people who watch TV news. You can't get better than free TV advertising in front of 10 million pairs of eyes."
That's what happened with an ad featuring Paris Hilton that took a dig at Mr. Obama's popularity. It aired only a couple of times, but millions saw it on YouTube and in news reports about the controversy it created.
Another ad got free airplay because of its controversial message. The McCain camp said Mr. Obama had pushed through a bill that allowed comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. It was widely declared dishonest, as the legislation had a broader focus, and Mr. Obama hadn't sponsored the legislation.
Guaranteeing that the majority of viewers in the Dallas market were to see a TV ad at least once would cost about $150,000 for a weeklong run. Around the state, it would cost at least $1 million.
The major benefits of blending the YouTube age with the most expensive and tech-savvy presidential campaign in history are not lost on the candidates or the parties.
About 35 percent of Americans have watched a political ad online at least once, nearly three times as many as in 2004, studies show. And while made-for-TV ads must appeal to a broad swath of voters, an Internet ad can be sharper to appeal to hard-core partisans, who are most likely to see them.
The Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign, which had lagged behind the Obama camp in Internet fundraising and social networking, have raced to get out front in the video arena with quick-response Web videos that go straight to YouTube or his site at the rate of several a week.
Mr. McCain's Web ads are highly partisan – more so, as a general rule, than his TV ads are – and can run much longer than the standard 30-second TV spot.
The three-minute "Obama Love" video, for example, features pundits talking about the media and throws plenty of red meat to conservatives who chafe at what they perceive to be bias in favor of the Illinois Democrat. And in contrast to Mr. Obama's videos, which are typically simple spots encouraging action or footage of rallies and speeches, the McCain productions resemble actual advertisements or highly produced mini-documentaries.
Prepared for TV
"The McCain campaign has skillfully taken advantage of the phenomenon of ghost videos, which are designed and intended for potential television release, and they may actually run once in a market some place," said Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of TechPresident.com, which tracks the effect the Internet has on the campaign. "They put them online knowing full well that supporters will distribute them for them, regardless of whether the campaign continues to promote them or not."
Mr. Obama's video streams, both on YouTube and on his site, are largely personal messages from the candidate and his family members and supporters, and videos of speeches that voters can go back and watch.
Calls to the Obama campaign seeking comment were not returned. But the McCain camp says they've found a great way to communicate with voters.
"We would definitely say we've found success with using the Web videos as a method of communicating our message, and we fully intend to continue to use them for the duration of the campaign," said McCain campaign spokesman Tom Kise. "We'll have to evaluate how successful they were from a tactical purpose afterwards."

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