The Democratic National Committee (DNC) came up with a new way to use online advertising in political campaigning during the first two weeks of October: as a means of creating a virtual spin room to enlist thousands of people in the post-debate rhetorical ritual. The DNC placed advertisements on dozens of local and national news sites immediately after the presidential and vice-presidential debates, as detected by Evaliant Media Resources, a TNSMI/CMAG affiliate company. The ads, clearly intended to be viewed by Internet users seeking news reports and analysis of the debates, asserted a Kerry victory and linked to a “Debate Center” page on the DNC web site. The landing page viewers were given talking points and asked to call talk radio programs and vote in news media online polls. Although no expenditure estimates are yet available, the tabulated frequency of ad encounters indicates that the DNC buy has been exceeded this year only by the Bush initiative in May featuring the First Lady.
The Bush, Kerry, and RNC placed almost no ads at all during the first half of October. The only other ad buy of note during the first two weeks of October was by GeorgeSoros.com , a web site promoting a new book by the billionaire activist critical of President Bush. The Soros ads ran primarily on financial news web sites.