Type in a Google search for the words “immigration reform,” and in the split second it takes for your results to pop up, the president’s reelection campaign may begin courting you. Up comes an ad for barackobama.com, next to the search results.
And if you take the next step and click through to the campaign’s Web site, ads for the president’s reelection may start following you around the Web.
The Obama campaign, and to a lesser extent its GOP rivals, has embraced the potential of the Internet age to reach possible supporters this election season.
The president’s campaign has bought Google advertising space next to all sorts of searches, including “Warren Buffett,” “Obama singing,” “Obama birthday” and, for basketball fans, “Obama bracket.”
The assumption is that people interested in those topics may also fit the profile of potential Obama backers, making them perfect targets for a strategically placed ad.
The president is not alone in this. Mitt Romney has bought advertising space next to his father’s name, for example, and Rick Santorum has gone for the term “Rush Limbaugh,” according to Hitwise, a company that samples Internet traffic. The ads are rotated on and off the search pages, and campaigns often purchase the ad space for short periods.
Here is a screenshot as of this morning: