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Keynote on Obama Campaign Marketing at Search Insider Summit – Utah

IMG_1079Image by David Berkowitz via Flickr (from last year&;s event)

Gord Hotchkiss,
President & CEO ,
Enquiro Search Solutions
Corina Constantin,
Director, Decision Sciences,
Didit Labs
Emily Williams,
Interactive Account Executive,
MSHC Partners
Ben Seslija,
Senior Director of Analytics,

It&39;s a town hall meeting about the Obama campaign and how it all played out.

Fun fact: none of the three people on stage are US-born.

Gord&39;s Canadian.
Corina&39;s Romanian.
Ben&39;s Serbian.

Emily worked on the online advertising team for Obama from the Chicago headquarters.

And now the panel begins:

Ben: "Obama was in the right time at the right place." Major use of email. Excellent data collection and data integration. Says it&39;s the first time someone in politics as doing what ecommerce companies have doing for years.

Corina: "His approach to online advertising was a little more traditional than people realize." He created a brand, but didn&39;t bid as much on issues, at least until the economy became the key issue. "The way he created the buzz online was by creating the buzz offline." Created brand from the bottom up.

Gord: How much was strategy, and how much of it was &39;the man&39;?

Emily: Strategy was a major part of it – getting people to engage online and then take action offline. "It was very response-driven in that sense."

Random trivia game: who&39;s harder to understand?
A) The Canadian
B) The Romanian
C) The Serbian
D) The one on the phone
I&39;m jesting here – you can understand everyone, but sometimes a few words get lost here and there.


Q: How were search trends used as competitive intelligence?

Emily: That was certainly part of it.

Emily: Referring to point (from Corina) on persuading vs. reinforcement: that&39;s what the campaign understood. "We didn&39;t spend a lot of time on issue terms because they weren&39;t converting." They were looking at what was happening beyond the click. Oh, snap! Take that, for all you people who were giving unsolicited advice on what to bid on.

Q: Hypothetical question on whether McCain could have done better if he used Obama&39;s tactics.

I&39;ve got my own: if McCain&39;s father was from Kenya and Obama served in Desert Storm, would we still be in a recession? That makes just as much sense.

Q: Talk about the social media side.

Ben: Obama was definitely more present. And it&39;s not just about the tactics – it&39;s about the man.

Emily: Our job was to build it so other people could use it.

Gord: What&39;s going to change?

Ben: Interesting to see how the government will use online advertising in the future.

Corina: This campaign has been defined by two concepts. One is integration, the other is participation. The way the Obama campaign integrated all media was amazing.

Emily: That&39;s on the money. Hopefully this legitimized the use of online tools in a political campaign and we&39;ll see more integration of online marketing into the political campaign. Also, geotargeting was something we took advantage of – segmenting by location, age, and behavioral characteristics. All of those are incredibly appealing.

For further insight: I had the honor of doing a video series about how the candidates held up from a marketing lens with CK, Alan Wolk, and Michael Leis. There are some great nuggets there (beyond the fact that I got too short a haircut). Watch the election marketing videos here.

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