Politicians Try To Reach Voters Online

Monday, October 30th 2006, 2:41 pm
By: News On 6

With midterm elections a little over a week away, odds are you have been bombarded by political ads while watching television. And you might not be able to avoid them online for much longer.

News on 6 reporter Chris Wright has more on a new kind of political advertising.

2006 is the first major election since the creation of YouTube, the popular video-sharing website. Some Oklahoma campaigns are taking advantage of the online video phenomenon, hoping to get their message to a wider audience.

At the University of Tulsa, browsing YouTube has almost become as common as checking e-mail. Some students even spend more time on the web than in front of the tube. TU junior Will Farrell: "I really don't watch TV at all, with Internet it's over here and really easy to get to." TU sophomore Wesam Keesh: "I only watch maybe less than an hour of TV a day now, and I'm on the Internet at least three hours a day."

In an effort to reach young voters, and anyone else who watches videos online, some campaigns have posted their ads on YouTube. Campaign managers for attorney General Drew Edmondson have placed his ads on YouTube, and embedded them on his website. Deputy campaign manager Andrea Hamor: "it's the kind of message you can seek it out, you can watch it whenever you want to, it's not invasive I think it's really going to stick around."

One of the advantages of placing a political ad on a site is that it's free and can be viewed by millions of people immediately. Edmondson's ads are not exactly the popular videos on the site though. They have only been viewed several hundred times since being posted last week.

But unlike television ads, putting an ad on YouTube does not cost anything, so there is little at stake. Andrea Hamor: "I think that Internet video is definitely a good tool, I think that campaigns will continue to use it, it's relatively inexpensive."

And TU students say if they come across an ad online, they might just watch it, as long as it's interesting. Wesam Keesh: "oh yeah, if it were done in the right way, not too boring, something that would grab my attention, yeah I’d take a look."

Political experts say most campaigns have yet to embrace the online video phenomenon, but they expect it to play a large role in the 2008 presidential election.