When I started our year end C&L fundraiser I wrote a post called : Democratic and Progressive Groups Now Advertise on Cheap Google Ads
It used to be that progressive groups, presidential and congressional campaigns, think tanks and the like would buy first party ads on all of our sites. That funding stream is crucial to our survival, but in the last two years many have switched their buys, including prominent groups that claim to support progressive media. It's frustrating on many levels, but the simplest reason they should buy first party ads again is because we are the only sites that carry a distinct progressive message. Also, we reach vast audiences on a daily basis that these groups need to support them in these troubled times. We often promote progressive causes of these groups when possible, but nowadays it's not reciprocated. I hope that changes.You've seen the amount of money flowing into the market during this election season. There's no reason for them to shortchange some of the people most responsible for turning the tide against conservative rule.
I was contacted a few days ago by Craig Timberg of the WaPo who was doing an article about online advertising. I explained to him what was happening and after he interview a few others for his story, he turned out an excellent article yesterday.
More money is going into online ads than ever before, with estimates topping $100 million. But much of this bounty is being distributed through advertising exchanges, such as AOL’s Advertising.com or Google AdSense, that serve as middlemen, bypassing the direct buys that long have been key sources of revenue for Web publications. The ad exchanges have given campaigns greater precision in targeting voters — 30-something women in swing states who visit parenting Web sites, for example. But the exchanges also take a cut of every buy, leaving less for politically oriented sites in what once was their most lucrative season. They say the trend threatens to starve a diffuse ecosystem of online publications that nurture political conversation.
Surging spending on online ads has spawned a new generation of campaign consultants, skilled in new targeting tools and less inclined to spend money on Web sites merely because they support a partisan message. They are increasingly mimicking the tactics of commercial advertisers, which often aim ads not at particular sites but at certain kinds of users and whatever they happen to reading at the time.
He goes on to explain the adverse a bit more and then gets a quote from Zac Moffatt, digital director for Mitt Romney’s campaign:
This is made possible by cookies — bits of code created by Web browsers — that show advertisers basic demographic information on users and track them from site to site. Zac Moffatt, digital director for Mitt Romney’s campaign, said most of its online ads are bought that way.“We’re not buying a site. We’re buying an audience,” Moffatt said. “The power of the Internet is targeting.”
This is happening from both sides of the aisle, but let me say that his excuse is absolute crap. Who do they think their audience is? It's us, morons. Our readers and others like us are the most knowledgeable and can become great activist assets for any campaign or targeted meme so it behooves these super consultants to make sure to include our sites into their mix. We also draw in a huge audience that reaches all types of new readers and interested people who are drawn here from so many other sources.
As you can see by the insane spending that's been going on this election cycle, they have more than enough money to appeal to like minded voters as well as fishing around for what they believe are phantom neutral people. I'd like to see if they have a real break down on how effective their audience building is going. Don't expect any data because these consultants don't want to have their words challenged.
And by the way, what are these supposed Super PACS doing with their money? There are plenty of left leaning groups that could be advertising across the blogosphere. What's their excuse? I'm writing about this because I wanted you to know what's been happening. If nobody does then nothing will change. I was quoted in Craig's article saying this.
But the overall move away from direct ad buying has extended to unions, political action committees and campaigns at the state and local levels, depriving political sites of revenue they had expected. Ads that come through exchanges often pay between 5 percent and 20 percent of the price charged when sites sell ads directly.
“We’re talking $100 million on a campaign. Are you telling me there’s not $100,000 to spread around?” said John Amato, founder of the left-leaning CrooksandLiars.com. “We’re here. Hey, don’t forget us.” He blogged about the issue last month in a post titled, “Democratic and Progressive Groups Now Advertise on Cheap Google Ads.”
It's not only happening to the left by the way.
Ire runs particularly high against Google, which runs the largest of the ad networks. It has moved more aggressively into political markets in recent years, creating separate teams catering to Republicans and Democrats.“As long as they continue to dominate, and as long as they continue to drive down the price, they will put free press out of business,” said Alex Treadway, senior vice president of sales for the Daily Caller, a right-of-center news and commentary site. “As a player in the market, it’s hard to compete.”
We all know how political consultants have screwed up the Democratic party since Clinton and now it's happening to revenues that affect all online media, which includes The NY Times, NPR, WaPo, LA Times and all the rest. It's a nation wide problem. Shrinking revenues crippled the MSM by the way.
It's not like it was years ago when the blogosphere first began. Sites like Crooksandliars.com, Daily Kos, Down With Tyranny, Hullaballoo and many others are quoted in all major publications, including magazines like the New Yorker, Time and Esquire.
Most every cable news networks and Comedy Central shows have used our work to create whole segments for their hosts to opine about. (This also includes all political talk radio as well.)
As we forecast years ago, the news media would have to change their format to be more like bloggers to survive in the future and that's finally happened and now every one of them pumps their new blogs nonstop. We're the main stream way to do news now. I'm not bitter at all. I believe that some of these newbie consultants don't even realize what they are doing to the online media and campaigns are very busy...campaigning. But what's up with the Super PACS?
If you're sick of Google and consultants taking over the world then I'd suggest in the future that all readers should make a mental note and when unions, political action committees and campaigns at the state and local levels, or whoever ask you to help out make sure to tell them to support the blogosphere or you're not interested. It'll make a big difference.
Any consultant or media reporter who wants to chat about this can contact me via email John@crooksandliars.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss it.
Oh and can you spare a dime? hehe