Obama Tops McCain on Search Ad Front, per Survey

NEW YORK Though most experts say there wasn’t a clear winner in last week’s presidential debate, Barack Obama crushed John McCain — on the search ad front, at least.

That’s according to an analysis conducted by direct-marketing specialty agency SendTec, which found that both prior to and immediately following the Sept. 26 debate, Obama’s campaign was far more aggressive in purchasing ads tied to debate-related search terms such as “debate,” “debate winner” and “debate results.”

In addition, Obama’s team has been snatching up ad inventory alongside searches for economic terms, looking to capitalize on widespread consumer interest in the unfolding Wall Street crisis.

McCain, who as recently as a few months ago had been outdoing Obama on sheer search presence by a considerable margin, did not purchase any ads related to the debates or the economic meltdown, according to SendTec’s analysis: “McCain’s SEM campaign has taken a noticeable downturn, and their camp is missing significant opportunities.”

Both candidates ran clips and debate-related ads on their respective Web sites just after last Friday’s debate. In terms of post-campaign traffic, Obama won in Ronald Reagan-esque fashion. According to SendTec’s analysis of Alexa data, BarackObama.com drew a 350 percent larger share of total Web users than JohnMcCain.com.

However, SendTec found that while Obama’s post-debate search strategy surpassed his Republican rival’s, both candidates missed obvious ad opportunities. For example, neither campaign ran search ads tied to hot-button terms such as “war,” “mortgage crisis,” “bailout plan,” “Iran,” “Iraq” or “Wall Street,” said the report.