And just what is the impact of TV on the web?

One of the questions I have been asked in the past two years was what it was like in the trenches when the campaign suddenly began to take off. As I have written in the archives, the change was astounding – but none so remarkable as what occurred on the night of the 19th. As all know, Kerry pulled off an incredible feat in winning the primary in Iowa – but what is not known is how difficult it had been to get Kerry to recognize the power of his own voice when helping the Internet side of the campaign. The image below is a data set I have talked about in the past, and now feel comfortable enough to share since this lesson is becoming more commonplace than before.

The Impact of Kerry saying JohnKerry.com on National Television

(click to see larger image)


Trying to get Kerry to say the URL
One of the hardest tasks we had on the Internet team was to get the staff to accept the fact that the website was an important part of the campaign. We had a memo written that requested the URL be included in every press release, Kerry wrote an email to the staff instructing them to include the URL on all communications and our ongoing challenge with the Political staff on the need for coordination between them and the self-organizing supporters through MeetUp was a regular head-ache. Even JK was uncomfortable about saying the name of the website – it was suggested he thought it was too self-serving to say his “JohnKerry.com” on television.

In an earlier archive post, I mention David Thorne, JK’s ex-brother-in-law who was instrumental in helping the Internet Team get sufficient traction. What I did not mention is how David is the architect of what happened that night in Iowa.

After becoming incredibly frustrated with the Advance team and the Political team, David decided to take matters into his own hands. He ended up creating what is now the JohnKerry.com logo, getting it placed on foam-core, and then sticking it on the front of the podium before JK arrived. He then made sure the URL was in the speech and, as JK walked up to the podium, he whispered strongly in his ear, “Remember the website!” The results are seen above.

Afterwards
I spent that night babysitting the machines and tracking performance – making sure we did not crash. One of the tasks I took on was to find a way to track what happened in terms of time. The only dataset that was worthy of note was out bandwidth usage for our website. The graph shows five minute increments of bandwidth usage – and the peak shows that we had a jump of over twenty times the base usage in a very short period. In the world of large content sites, this is not that big of a deal (google 200x this traffic in a single day). But as a graphic to demonstrate what could happen, this was extremely persuasive. Once David showed this graphic to JK in the morning, he could not stop saying “JohnKerry.com” at almost every event he was at.

The power of the candidate is extremely underutilized – especially when considering what is the potential return. With the Deutsch campaign, I was able to tell when and where ads were being aired simply because the traffic impact was significant enough to drive people to the website in minor bursts. Do not discount the impact of multi-channel media strategies and the multiplicative results they can have.

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