Google Wants to Cash-in on Online Political Ads: What About Digital Free Time?

This is another in our series of warnings that unless campaign finance reform advocates act soon, the system requiring big money for campaigns will fully extend into all the digital platforms. Here’s an excerpt from a good story by Jim Puzzanghera of the LA Times [reg. required] that discusses Google’s new political ad sales team: “Google appears to be the most aggressive in reaching out to campaigns, suggesting that the Web giant thinks online politics may be approaching the point at which the company can make money from it….Campaigns spent about $12 million on online advertising in the 2004 presidential campaign, a tiny amount compared with the $1.6 billion they allocated to TV ads, said Michael A. Bassik, vice president of Internet strategy for MSCH Partners, an online political marketing firm. But campaign spending overall is shooting up. The amount spent on all political races in 2004 — about $4 billion — is expected to more than double in 2008. And just as many major companies are doing, political campaigns are expected to shift more of their ad dollars to the Web. Google wants to be ready when that happens.”

As for privacy, and the need to protect voters from the negative consequences of data collection, behavioral targeting, etc., see this quote from the LA Times’ story: “The Google network allows you to do very interesting things with targeting, with messaging, etc., in a way that you could never pull off with a 30-second TV spot,” Derek Kuhl, who is leading a New York-based political sales team [for Google] that will have three or four people, told the group.”

Here’s a link to the video of Google’s Eliot Schrage recently discussing the company and online politics, etc.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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