The November Fund, a 527 group largely funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that claims to be "dedicated to telling America the truth about trial lawyers and their efforts to stop legal reform," has begun delivering a 30-second video commercial to AIM users by pushing it out while theyre connected. This is the first time analysts have seen this technique, which AOL calls "Buddy Video" in a national campaign.
The AIM streaming videos are part of a larger buy covering all of AOL, according to Craig Karnes, vice president of Internet campaigns at Democracy Data & Communications, the Alexandria, Va., agency handling the AOL media buy for The November Fund.
"Our target is women aged 18 to 49," Karnes said. He said the ad is running during prime business hours so it will reach his audience while theyre at work.
Karnes noted the growing popularity of AIM as a business communications tool. The ad, which bashes trial lawyers and vice presidential candidate John Edwards, is designed to run when the AIM client starts, and remain quiet but visible at other times.
While The November Fund, also based in Alexandria, Va., is a leader in such advertising, its not alone. According to AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein, the Democratic National Committee is its biggest advertiser and will be running similar ads in targeted areas on AIM.
Weinstein said his company no longer has a specific age or gender demographic as its typical user. "We cross all demographics," he said. "We reach the majority of people who vote."
While political groups have been using the Internet at least for the past two presidential cycles, the process of pushing streaming video seems to be a political first during this election. "This is a new wrinkle," said Michael Cornfield, senior research consultant at the Pew Internet & American Life Project.