Insiders: DNC Ran Millions Of Web Ads In August, Bloggers Say 'Not Enough'

Earlier this month, MediaDailyNews reported that the John Kerry For President campaign and the Democratic National Committee had practically abandoned Web ad efforts altogether in the month of August. People at the DNC, Web publishers, and others close to the campaign say different. Tracking data from Nielsen//NetRatings AdRelevance showed that the Kerry campaign ran 71,000 ad impressions in August, down dramatically from the 72.5 million impressions it ran in July. The DNC, which due to campaign finance regulations has taken up the helm when it comes to fund-raising efforts, ran a mere 10,000 impressions in August, according to the research outfit.

Insiders say that number is way off--by millions. In fact, one source says the DNC ran 60 million Web ad impressions promoting Kerry in August on highly trafficked news sites, including washingtonpost.com, AOL Election Guide, and SF Gate, The San Francisco Chronicle Web site.

The DNC ran "millions of impressions" and spent roughly $10,000 on MSN Slate Magazine in August, according to the site's publisher, Cyrus Krohn. He expects around a quarter of one million dollars to be spent by the DNC and the John Kerry For President campaign in total on MSN by the election.

Although washingtonpost.com would not reveal impression numbers, a representative confirmed that the DNC ran ads on the site in August. An AOL spokesperson confirmed that the DNC has run fund-raising ads in the AOL Election Guide since June, and plans to continue the campaign through election day. Beverly Best, retail/national sales manager at SF Gate, notes that while ads placed by the Kerry camp and the DNC have run on the site, the DNC has "not [run] much."

While discrepancies do occur, gaps in AdRelevance numbers this extreme are rare, says Marc Ryan, senior director of analysis at Nielsen//NetRatings. AdRelevance tracks the top 1,000 most trafficked Web sites--as well as other sites--using multiple machines that constantly surf the Web and capture ad data. Once an ad is captured, it is categorized based on the advertiser and URL it links to.

Because political ads can be placed by a multitude of organizations, adds Ryan, it is difficult to track just who's doing what. "It gets very confusing within the realm of what's going on in political ads to decipher who's paying for what," he stresses, noting that the primary intent of the AdRelevance system is to track the Web ad activities of Fortune 500 companies.

No matter how many ads the Democrats have placed on the Internet recently, some members of the blogging community say it's not enough. After all, claims Jerome Armstrong, MyDD blogger and former director of Internet advertising for Howard Dean's primary campaign, blog site visitors have contributed "over one million dollars" to the Democratic party since January.

Rather than trying to rattle the traditional media-minded party establishment, Armstrong and other prominent bloggers including Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos have put their money where their blog posts are by forming BlogPac, a political action committee dedicated to "waging politics entirely online." The week-old organization has already begun running Web video ads targeting the Dallas area, according to Armstrong.

"The idea is, we're raising this money on the Internet; let's keep it on here," explains Armstrong. Since launching the ad Monday, the group has raised $6,000.