Romney Fights For Message Control, Obama Outpaces GOP In Digital Reach

Obama-RomneySearch and social have become marketing tools to influence and inform American voters, especially during the 2012 Republican primary race, as political campaigns start to look even more like branding strategies. With 82% of Americans turning to the Internet for information about candidates, online marketing expertise has become crucial, according to a research report.

Conductor, although not a political advisor, set out to determine voter preferences and mindshare through data collected by its SearchLight enterprise SEO platform. The Election 2012 report analyzes online search trends in the primary race during March.

The research examines keywords to search for candidates and election issues; the frequency of candidate searches; the volume of online news generated by candidates; and the candidate’s ability to control the quality of the message appearing on traditional online news sources and through social networks and tools.

Using the Google AdWords tool, Conductor built a list of keywords representing queries that voters might use to find information about candidates. The test created 275 keywords per candidate, each entered into SearchLight.

The research shows Obama spends twice as much on Google advertising, has eight times more on Facebook Likes and five times more Twitter followers than the combined Republican candidates, such as Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Gingrich has a higher number of Twitter followers compared with any other candidate, boasting 3.7 times more followers than Romney and 8 times more than Santorum.

What Santorum might have lacked in a Twitter follower count, he made up for in audience engagement. Web chatter about him was three times more than Gingrich and only 21% less than Romney.

Romney takes the Republican candidate lead when it comes to controlling the online message. His official Web site appeared on page one of the search results for online searches about him nearly half of the time, more often than the other candidates.

Although Sanroum recently dropped out of the race, he is prompts 51% more Google searches compared with Romney, and 79% more than Gingrich. He also received 35% of online news coverage -- the largest share -- in March.

Obama holds a significant head start. The foundation laid in 2008 continues to pay off during his re-election campaign. He appears on page one of the search results 55% of the time, nearly 10% more often than Romney, and spends more than double on search advertising, compared with Republican candidates.

Similar to marketing and branding efforts, money thrown blindly into online political campaigns will not work. Candidates must carefully measure efforts and attribution to ensure results, according to the report.

3 comments about "Romney Fights For Message Control, Obama Outpaces GOP In Digital Reach".
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  1. Scott Crider from Watchdog Interactive, April 17, 2012 at 9:56 a.m.

    Great article. I'm surprised you didn't mention the fact that one of Google's suggested searches for "Mitt Romney" is "Mitt Romney dog on roof." Suggested searches are driven by the sheer volume of queries for certain keyword phrases. In this instance, it's indicative of the Romney campaign's inability to control a negative message that has been driven almost entirely by grassroots activists. It represents an enormous challenge for campaigns going forward.

  2. Nick Johnson from Sabramedia, LLC, April 17, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.

    And Ron Paul's numbers? How about a YouTube comparison....

  3. Nathan Safran from Conductor, April 17, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.

    @Nick Johnson: Author of the study here.

    We did include an analysis of Ron Paul: download the full study here:

    Interestingly, he had a disproportionate social following to both his standing in the polls and to his online news coverage, presumably because of his following among the young demographic, but clearly that has not translated in the polls.

    -Nathan Safran
    Director of Research
    Conductor, Inc.

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