The study, based on a survey of 155 political consultants, found that about one in three consultants, or 32 percent, intend to spend more than 20 percent of their campaign budgets online in 2008. This year, however, just 12 percent of consultants intend to spend that proportion of ad dollars online.
Despite plans to increase online budgets, many consultants surveyed continued to rate TV and cable as a better way to persuade voters than the Web. When asked to name the three best ways for candidates and advocates to win campaigns in 2008, 80 percent chose TV and cable. By comparison, far less chose Web sites (32 percent), radio (32 percent), newspapers (12 percent), or online ads (8 percent).
Which types of online channels do consultants think work best? The answer depends on whether they're trying to reach party loyalists or independents. Sixty percent of consultants said e-mail newsletters were among the most effective ways to reach members of a candidate's "loyal base," compared to 17 percent that deemed e-mail newsletters an effective way to reach every audience, and 8 percent that thought e-mail newsletters were a good choice for reaching undecided voters.
Candidate Web sites were viewed as a good way to reach general audiences by 47 percent of consultants, but just 34 percent of consultants thought candidate Web sites were effective for loyal supporters.
The study was sponsored by rich media company PointRoll.