Google highlights NRSC’s digital edge over Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes's (D) odd campaign launch was the subject of considerable debate earlier this month.

And now, Google is contrasting that with what they say was Republicans' successful digital response to the launch.

While Grimes had little in the way of a digital presence the day she announced, including having no campaign Web site to solicit donations or push positive information about her, Google says the National Republican Senatorial Committee effectively used its advertising tools to gain an early and largely uncontested advantage.

In a new promotional case study for their AdWords pay-per-click advertising program, Google says NRSC made it so anyone seeking information about Grimes was exposed to the GOP's information about her rather than her own.

Shortly after Grimes's launch, the NRSC paid for Google AdWords so that anyone who Googled Grimes's name would see a link to donate to the NRSC at the top of their search results page. Grimes is running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The committee also launched and promoted its own Web site at grimesforsenate.org -- a page tying Grimes to President Obama, who is very unpopular in red Kentucky.

"Running a search ad enabled the NRSC to shape voters’ perceptions of Grimes," reads the report, which the NRSC is promoting on its Web site. "Meanwhile, neither Grimes or her supporters appeared in either paid or organic search results."

Citing proprietary information, Google declined to share specific numbers on how successful the GOP's ad strategy was in this particular case, and there has been no recent polling to gauge what effect -- if any -- it had on Grimes's standing in the race.

But a bipartisan poll commissioned by Google in October showed 64 percent of people in five key swing states used the Internet to fact-check information about political candidates.

Google senior account executive Rob Saliterman said the Republicans, who have often lagged behind when it comes to recognizing the power of online advertising, appear to be making up ground.

"We decided that it was a good example of a political organization using search advertising to reach potential voters," Saliterman said. "Whenever we see that an advertiser does things that other advertisers should be doing … we like to try and highlight that."

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Scott Clement · July 22, 2013