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If it's true that all politics is local, it makes sense that AOL would want a piece of that ad market online. Starting today, the portal's advertising arm will be selling political advertising.

The company aims to combine its local and display focus with the burgeoning interest in online political advertising. And in fact, they might be on to something.

AOL is making a huge push for local content, and it makes sense that the company would want to use its advertising platform to sell local political ads.

With the Supreme Court having recently struck down the limits to corporate spending on political ads, and the gains that online and mobile campaign elements made in the 2008 election, there is set to be a deluge of political dollars going into digital this year and beyond.

Considering that local politicians often spend a large quantity of time postering neighborhoods, and campaigning on sidewalks and near public transportation, it makes sense that they would want to find voters where they are. And often, they're online.

As AOL points out, 83% of voting age Americans (172.3 million) use the internet. That number is on the rise, and the number of hours spent using the internet by U.S. adults is only surpassed by the number of hours American spend watching TV.

Meanwhile, AOL promises to connect politicians to over 158 million unique visitors over the age of 18 with their display ad products. 

As Jeff Levick, AOL Advertising’s global head, tells PaidContent:

“It’s natural for political campaigns to look to search, but for the most part, search involves something that people are already looking for. But with our display system, you can target both a broader audience and a more narrow one.”

If AOL can deliver targeted ads to the right potential voters, politicians may find themselves depending on this ad platform frequently.

AOL's new system enables candidates to find likely Democrats and registered voters. They can also work with Patch to target by location or retarget people who have already viewed their website or ads online.

“There’s something special about political advertising," says Levick. “It’s opened up our eyes to some of the possibilities of organizing display sales. Every category trying to do something different. Politics is our first step into that area.”

AOL has assigned seven sales executives to focus solely on political campaigns, and with the mid-term elections rapidly approaching, the company is well positioned to rake in many of the dollars that politicians will be bringing to the web very soon.

Meghan Keane

Published 22 July, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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Bangalow Accommodation

Allowing political advertising like this could be dangerous (which voice are we going to hear, an unbiased voice or is online media risking being peppered with political bias ?). Obviously (unfortunately) this trend is being lobbied for. A shame, up to now the internet was one of the last arenas that was politics-free....

over 6 years ago

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