Monday, October 11, 2010

If you carry a cell phone, politicians can find you

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The campaigns of Republican incumbent Rep. Michele Bachmann and Democratic challenger Tarryl Clark in the 6th Congressional District are blazing trails in their efforts to reach voters, combining cutting-edge technology with time-tested political strategies to gain the upper hand in the most expensive U.S. House race in Minnesota history.

If you own a cell phone, have any interest in politics and happened to attend the State Fair, you were probably among a few thousand people to receive a Minnesota first - a cell phone ad aimed at a group of people who happened to be at a certain place at a certain time.

The credit - or blame, depending on your perspective - for this hyper-targeted advertising goes to Bachmann, who produced an ad accusing Clark of wanting to raise taxes on fair food and then beamed it to anyone within a mile radius of the Fairgrounds.

"I think what Bachmann did is one of the most innovative uses so far" of mobile phone advertising, said Andrew Roos, political ad strategist for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google, which sold Bachmann the ad.

Roos said mobile phone ads are all the rage in politics, with hundreds of campaigns across the country deploying them.

A key factor is that one in five people now own GPS-equipped smartphones, which can receive location-based advertising for their willing users. During the 2008 election cycle, that number was 1 in 10, Roos said.

"You have to bring your message to where people are living their lives," Roos said.

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