Description: Every four years the presidential campaigns get way out ahead of everyone else in the use of interactive technologies. What is their experience to date?
Introductory comments: Michael Slaby / Obama for America
Link: Obama social network http://my.barackobama.com
It helps that the candidate has a lot of youth appeal.  Hundreds of thousands of friends on myspace and facebook. They've been rolling out profiles on just about every social network they could think of.
The point isn't just an effort to pander, it's to reach people where they are. Not everyone will find barackobama.com.  The goal is to give people tools to communicate and share.
The open question is how they translate online interest into real world activity including, but not limited to voting?
The level of engagement to create a my. profile on barack's site is different than the level of engagement to add him as a friend on myspace.  People that went to the my. site would canvas a neighborhood for the candidate. So the ask in return has to be commensurate with the customer who started the engagement.
You need to speak to people in a context they understand and engage on their level in their homes.
80 thousand active profiles on my.
Big challenge is continuing to make sure the active people have new things to do so that you keep them engaged beyond the initial conversation.
In November of 2008 the site could fall apart so they can experiment.
Question: What is the ratio of staff resources that you put towards external stuff compared to internal?
It's currently a balanced spend.  The people at My. are more active offline so even though the other networks might be bigger the ones at my. are more engaged.
"Just talking to people isn't enough, they want everyone talking to everyone else about the content they push"
Question: How do you bridge the online to the offline specifically?
It's hard to guess the value of 80k myspace friends. Metrics for offline events rely on self identification.  Online advertising is more complete than on-> offline motivation metrics.
Question: How much of this has proven?
Not much. There is no proof that all the myspace friends will vote. The thinking is that they "hope".
Question: What experiment are you most interested in?
Introductory comments: Stuart Trevelyan / NGP Software
Online has changed money, message, and mechanics.
25% of contributions come from online.
Candidates carry more empowering and participatory messages. In the 90's the goal was message control and you only said ten words. Now you have to change how you communicate depending on the mechanism and audience.
The mechanics have changed looking at things like the "youtube debate"
Some candidates are allowing users to create their on commercial via jumpcut.
There is a huge increase in low dollar contributors.  The long tail is donating money and that changes things.
You can more easily have a scaled engagement hierarchy of engagement with the online tools that are available today.
How do we use participatory models in a way that can be branded and "message managed"?
"Micro-targeting" research is also very popular by running slices against the profiles to send targeted messages, content, and activities at those targets.
- Have also done a lot of e-mail campaigns as well.  So what they do is choose a sub-section of the full campaign database. by 10am see the response rate then blast out that reply to the rest of the addresses.
- Metrics are huge. Organizers want to find and mine all sorts of data. They give local campaign organizers access to data like "who in dayton has donated over 500 dollars and attended one event over the last year" so that the local organizers can mobilize the constituents.
Question: Why do all the campaign web sites look the same? The features are also the same.
There actually aren't a lot of unique companies that do the sites. There is a race to differentiate in features between the web sites.
There are also a lot of masters to serve so something that's edgy and great might not have the broadest appeal.
Comment: In the Dean campaign things would break often enough it didn't feel real. Today it feels like the candidates have their online acts together.
Campaigns are doing better at the qualifications of online users and getting a feedback loop from the users about the tools. This way they can figure out the "quality people"  to micro-target activities to.
A NYT reporter will write stories about how one campaign bashes another when it might just be a community member on one of the fan or support sites. Comments on the blog have had their ups and downs.  But being willing to put these things out there has been a good risk.
Question: Every campaign has a splash page where they want to gather the e-mail address. Never seen another site or company take that approach.
Part of it is the compressed timeline. There is a lot less time to get users active and build up relationships than there might be with other sites.
Question: What is the strategy among 50+ online participants?
A lot of candidates have embraced ??? which isn't a huge network.  There isn't as much of a match between the demographic and the willingness to collaborate online.
They try and think about what someone's native form of participation is.  Someone who is 50 and is on a social network might be thinking more like a 20 year old and need that sort of engagement.
Question: What has worked best for online fundraising?
E-mail is still the biggest driver of actual fundraising. There is also a lot of offline fundraising that pushes people online to donate.  But e-mail is still the primary driver.
One of the hardest thing is asking for the right amount. Need to set the right goals… it's micro-targeting again.