Online Ads: Spreading Your Message, On A Budget | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Online Ads: Spreading Your Message, On A Budget

Play associated audio

The Internet has become the medium of choice for presidential contenders this year.

True, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is buying TV time in Iowa and elsewhere, pitching his status as a Washington outsider. And just Tuesday, Mitt Romney put up his first TV ad in New Hampshire, asking voters to "Believe in America."

But most of the videos in the campaign so far have been seen, and distributed, online.

At Romney's website, you'll find 13 pages' worth of videos. Some are simply clips of Romney's appearances on TV, but many others are slick productions. In one titled "Stop the Spending," people identified as "private sector job creators" criticize the 2009 stimulus bill and raise fears of another one.

Ken Goldstein, who tracks campaign ads for Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group, or CMAG, says videos like Romney's have become increasingly popular with candidates for a couple of reasons.

"They're a very cheap thing for the campaign to do — sometimes it doesn't really even cost that much money to produce the ad," he says. "And then what they're hoping to do is get a bunch of earned media or free media coverage to amplify that message."

Perhaps the most talked-about video in the campaign so far was a pretty simple production, starring Herman Cain's campaign manager and his cigarette.

Videos like those are like catnip to TV producers. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School, says campaigns are using Web videos because they work.

"Because of 24-hour-a-day news cycles now," she says, there is "all but an open channel for anything that's clever or extremely controversial, anything that's visual, and anything that's political. And as a result there is now a dissemination channel wide open, waiting to accept these ads."

Some video ads are simple clip jobs: Take a couple of bites of your candidate, mix in appropriate background music, add a few graphic titles, and voila, you've got a Web-ready video. Newt Gingrich's campaign posted one Monday, featuring some clips from a GOP debate last August in which Gingrich blasted the deficit-cutting supercommittee and which now makes the former House speaker look prescient:

But with greater distribution comes greater scrutiny. For instance, a new ad for Cain in Iowa shows a farmer disparaging the EPA.

"The EPA wants to regulate dust on farmers," the ad says. "You can't plow a field without dust. You can't drive down a gravel road without dust. My dog makes dust."

The Annenberg Public Policy Center has a new website called FlackCheck.org, which promises to take down misleading claims like Cain's attack against a nonexistent regulation. This one stars a talking cow named Emilky:

If nothing else, FlackCheck shows that almost anyone with a computer and editing software can produce an Internet video.

It may or may not win awards, but it gets your message across — and that's why campaigns churn them out.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Do Touch The Artwork At Prado's Exhibit For The Blind

The renowned Spanish museum has made 3-D copies of some of its most iconic works to allow blind people to feel them.
NPR

How Dangerous Is Powdered Alcohol?

Last month, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved a powdered alcohol product, making both parents and lawmakers nervous. Some states have already banned powdered alcohol. NPR's Arun Rath speaks with Brent Roth of Wired, who made his own powdered concoction and put it to the test.
NPR

With New Look And More Energy, Rick Perry Tries To Move Past 'Oops'

Do the glasses make the man? Four years ago, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry's presidential run was derailed by one word — oops. He admits now he wasn't healthy then, and he's trying to make up for it.
NPR

With Live Video Apps Like Periscope, Life Becomes Even Less Private

Video cameras are everywhere — from those in smartphones to security cams. And just when you thought it couldn't get harder to hide, live-streaming video apps are raising new questions about privacy.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.