Online tools must serve business purpose

Digital media tools must be tied back to business goals, and are not a means to an end, says external online director for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

SINGAPORE--The use of digital media tools must still be driven by business needs, said Scott Goodstein, external online director for Barack Obama's presidental campaign.

Speaking at the ad:tech Singapore conference Tuesday, Goodstein said the campaign's digital marketing efforts focused on furthering the efforts of the overall campaign--raising funds and reaching out to voters.

"If it didn't tie back to the campaign, we didn't do it. It wasn't about experimenting with new technology," said Goodstein.

It's the candidate who won the election, not the tools.
Scott Goodstein, external online director, Barack Obama presidential campaign

He compared the digital efforts of the Obama campaign, to those run by the rival candidates. Many rival campaigns boasted adoption of many new media tools and presence on the "widest range of social networks", but Obama's campaign focused on using fewer tools more effectively, he said.

He raised the example of the MySpace social network, which requires the account holder to manually approve and add friends. Many people flocked to add the Obama site to their Friends lists, and leave feedback on its "wall", so staff had to be trained to maintain the account and be responsive to each online request.

Responsiveness was crucial to the success of the site, to make users feel "heard" and connected to the candidate, explained Goodstein.

He said the ROI (return on investment) to digital advertising cannot be measured precisely. It is similar to that of a radio broadcast, where the advertiser cannot identify exactly which ad brought in a particular sale, he said.

Instead, the online team tracked data such as clicks and which message posted generated a greater reaction.

The key lesson from the campaign was "integration", said Goodstein. While some rival teams separated their online marketing teams from other staff, Goodstein found that having the online team communicating with other staff in the campaign enabled instances where they were able to feature campaign spokespeople on the blog, which incited much interest and response from the online community.

"McCain had a big online campaign as well, but they were wrong on the economy. It's the candidate who won the election, not the tools," Goodstein said.

Singapore-based advertising non-profit planned
Also announced at the event was a plan to establish an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the country, to cater to the Southeast Asian region.

The Singapore-chapter of the international organization is planned to be a non-profit association to share digital advertising best practices and establish contact between members.

The IAB hopes to raise the proportion of advertising spend on online media in the Southeast Asian region to 20 percent by 2020.

According to Yahoo Southeast Asia's vice president and managing director, Ken Mandel, the current regional spend on online advertising is 1 to 2 percent. Western markets stand at around 20 percent, he said.

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