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Heating up the 2010 midterm elections with In-Stream Ads

By Amy Barth

In-Stream Ads Specialist, Google Elections And Issue Advocacy

This post is part of the “BizBlog Series,” which was formally its own blog. Check back each week to see articles about partners and advertisers on YouTube, or search under the label 'BizBlog'. 

Getting elected to the House or Senate these days is no longer as easy as putting up some yard signs, holding babies and smiling at the local senior center. With 68% of U.S. voters heading online before they vote to do research on local ballot initiatives, being online is crucial to getting elected. For the last couple of election cycles, we have seen how important it is for politicians and issue advocacy groups to maintain channels on YouTube — but when it comes to advertising, most campaigns get their messages to constituents through online ads across search and the Google Display Network with tactics like Google Blasts.

This cycle, dozens of races in 15 battleground states are incorporating a different ad format into their campaigns: In-Stream Ads. Using In-Stream Ads, candidates and issue advocacy groups have reached millions of U.S. voters this primary season. The best part? It straddles that line between digital and TV advertising: most campaign managers and political agencies are taking their standard made-for-TV 30-second ads and simply re-purposing them to run on YouTube. Campaigns can target locations (like their state or district), as well as content categories on YouTube, allowing them to tailor their message to specific groups of constituents. For example, a candidate interested in reaching young moms might target nutrition, fitness, health and parenting categories.

Defeat the Debt, a non profit group driving issue awarenessof the national debt, has already reached over 1 million people by running In-Stream ads across the country. In some markets they have even opted to run In-Stream instead of TV ads due to their effectiveness. Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett has also run In-Stream Ads in conjunction with his television campaigns, reaching almost 500K potential voters in Wisconsin on YouTube. Senatorial candidates Marco Rubio (Florida) and Dino Rossi (Washington) have also implemented campaigns.

While we can’t predict how politicians will actually do once they’re elected, it’s clear that their campaigns are taking advantage of the latest ways to engage and inform voters on important issues in 2010.