Web Rich with Political Influence

In the world of politics, voters are taking advantage of the Web to track the progress of their favorite candidates, monitor what the other side is up to, and support causes they believe in. The favorable combination of powerful and affordable computer systems, better bandwidth access, and easy-to-use Web technologies have made it commonplace for consumers to regularly access information—increasingly in the form of rich media—on news and entertainment sites alike.

As the presidential race heats up, GeorgeWBush.com and JohnKerry.com have experienced a steady increase in traffic, with Americans logging on to access a variety of features including multimedia offerings. Both sites make use of rich media capabilities that enable visitors to view campaign speeches and recent TV spots and appearances. Bush's site even offers a chat center where users can participate in question-and-answer sessions with scheduled campaign team members and political guests.

Political Web traffic spiked during the July Democratic National Convention, as tracked by comScore Networks, a global information provider and consultancy. Through comScore's Web traffic analysis, it was discovered that thousands of Republicans and Democrats went online to monitor the convention's events, even logging on at work and during their lunch hours. comScore's analysis showed that during John Kerry's speech on July 29th, Web traffic increased dramatically on both candidates' Web sites.

During his acceptance speech, Kerry prompted listeners to go online and visit his site to learn more about his policy positions. According to comScore's analysis, Americans heeded this call to action, which resulted in a traffic increase of 206% in July. Seventeen percent of those who visited JohnKerry.com during July also went to the contributions section of the site. During the hour senator Kerry spoke, his site attracted approximately 50,000 visitors while Bush also got his fair share of supporters with some 30,000 visitors logging on to his site.

Despite the boost in Web traffic the candidates' sites enjoyed throughout the convention, both were upstaged by a less serious political diversion, JibJab.com. The site, which features an online video satirizing Bush and Kerry, boasted 10.4 million visitors in July, more than three times the number of Americans who visited JohnKerry.com and GeorgeWBush.com. "Steeped in humor and controversy, JibJab.com took the Web by storm, easily reaching more Americans directly than the targets of its humor," said Peter Daboll, president and CEO of comScore Media Metrix, a division of comScore Networks. "This is an example of just how quickly compelling content can spread in a wired world, and a hidden lesson for marketers looking to stand out among competitors with much bigger ad budgets."

While the Web has proven to be an effective medium for voters to stay informed about political issues, it has also become a powerful tool for helping them take action and further causes they believe in. Case in point: the inception of MoveOn.org, a grassroots organization that promotes liberal causes from its Web site and has garnered plenty of media coverage for doing it well.

Founded in 1998 by two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Joan Blade and Wes Boyd, MoveOn.org started as a vehicle for Americans to protest the impeachment of President Clinton, allowing them to pool their money by giving small donations via the Web. It also makes use of rich media to further its causes. For instance, in July, more than 100,000 MoveOn members participated in its Real People Contest to create a commercial that it plans to air during the Republican Convention; the clips of the winners and top entrants can be viewed on the site. A Marine who has recently returned from Iraq submitted the winning ad. Via donations, the MoveOn team hopes to raise enough funds to air the spot during convention time to show its members' opposition to Bush's re-election.

The Web continues to be a powerful resource for Americans, enabling them to not only stay informed but to communicate with one another about causes they believe in. As Web traffic increases, rich media is also thriving, with components such as streaming video and audio files creating a more interactive environment.
(www.georgewbush.com; www.jibjab.com; www.johnkerry.com; www.moveon.org)