The U.S. political machinery's full embrace of the Internet has made it much more expensive to buy Internet search ads, say a couple of frustrated veteran ad execs.
The problem is a lot of political action committees have only experience dealing with magazines, newspapers, television and radio, where is costs an arm and a leg to buy airtime, or space on a few pages.
So out of reflex, these Internet-newbies are overspending when it comes to placing their campaign messages alongside Internet search results. They don't have to, but they do anyway, and probably don't even realize it.
What actually happens is they over-bid on words like "Bush" or "Dean", which allows their ads to appear on a page of search results for those terms. As a result, advertisers must spend a lot more money than they expected, or change their own ad campaigns.
Some inside the Washington, D.C. beltway pooh-pooh this theory. The naysayers contend PACs couldn't possibly spend enough to have such a widespread impact on the price of an Internet search ad.
But at least two veteran ad exec with major media buyers says it's a sad, but true, state of affairs.
"The PACs (political action committees) are driving everybody nuts," one exasperated exec said.