The Money Left on the Table
Some may find this ironic coming from a man who last voted McCain for president as a write-in, but if the filthy, polluting lucre has to flow in one direction, why is it almost invariably television?
And before I set off a bunch of whiny online apologists complaining about the unfairness of it all, we have to set the blame squarely in our own camp. We stink at providing local media opportunities, and we should be beating the pants off the other media in this category.
Almost all political advertising needs to be fairly well regionally defined, even the national races. The 535 national US Congress seats have highly articulated local boundaries. Even presidential race messages tend to target certain issues to the right places and in the right phrasing.
While running media for a congressional primary in New Hampshire in this last cycle, I was concerned not only about what county and town the media covered, but the ward and precinct. And in some cases, there just wasn’t any media option. Sometimes the candidate really does have to go door-to-door, even to households that all access the Internet. Wearing out shoe leather really brings it home.
Broadcast television stations may suffer from the inability to reach beyond the range of their licensed watts, but at least they’ve made up for it in their savvy in selling their weakness as a strength.
We in the online world have taken that very strength and failed to develop it. It has atrophied to practically nothing. Sure, there are newspaper sites and others that do provide locality targeting. With few exceptions, though, they do not provide the price and scale that make it worthwhile for a well-funded campaign.
This should have been a cakewalk, but the Internet’s childhood had some warping influences. The manic venture capital plans - all companies presuming to be a national brand and have national revenues imminently - left the hard work of building local sales forces and technologies seeming like chump change. These efforts were left undone. And that’s money still left on the table.