April 11, 2007

gomes on candidate blogs

Lee Gomes, in his “Portals” column in the WSJ, covers the “sanitized” blogging that’s happening on the presidential sites.  Campaign blogs are nothing new, of course, but I think Gomes touches on what could end up being the meta-theme of politics on the web for ‘08:  effective cross-channel marketing that leverages the web for what it’s good for.

These couple of paragraphs caught my attention…

As candidates deal with the Web, they will start to learn that many Web users have an extremely high opinion of themselves and the online lifestyle they are now leading. Last week, Joe Biden responded via a Webcam to a question posed to him via YouTube. The response was called “a milestone in presidential politics” by one blogger, as though it marked the first time a candidate had ever been asked a question by a citizen.

Then again, Sen. Biden’s answer was one minute and 47 seconds long, which is the length of the average long report on a nightly newscast. The question involved the sorts of sacrifices Americans should be called on to make. The answer from the senator mentioned energy conservation and the war in Iraq. Being able to watch a candidate talk about an issue for a whole two minutes unfortunately has been a luxury in the U.S., though the Internet is in the process of changing that.

The soundbite goes to TV, the spin goes to print, the “conversation” goes to talk radio, the in-depth stuff goes to the web…but obviously not on the front page.  Front page blogs will almost by definition be sanitized; that’s where the message of the day (and the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd) gets delivered. But the web gives candidates the ability to go deeper with voters, even if our expectations have been degraded to such a point where 1 min 47 seconds is considered “deeper.”

So if this is really is all about cross-channel marketing and consumer engagement, then here’s a thought experiment: abc.com/lost is to hansofoundation.org as barackobama.com is to ****.