03:25 AM

With campaigns spinning on YouTube, GOOG smells a market

Even before the explosion of the anti-Hillary Vote Different parody, Google had gotten the idea: Political campaigns are using YouTube as an advertising medium. Google wants to make sure they maintain their platform - and, of course, find a way to monetize, the LA Times reports.

A newly formed political sales team made a sales pitch to some 80 politicios in Washington earlier this month, pitching not just YouTube but how to get sites appearing higher on Google's search engine.

"They're more keen to the desires and the needs of the political campaigns," Eric Anderson, online marketing director for the Republican National Committee, said after attending the company's seminar.

Elliot Schrage, the company's vice president of global communications and public affairs, said the company is "now recognizing that this is a segment that we have to pay attention to in a way that we hadn't."

Of course, many net companies like to dress some properties up in political clothing - MySpace launched a channel featuring pages from 10 campaigns and Yahoo launched a mini-portal, election.yahoo.com. But Google is the most aggressive with its political marketing.

"There's probably a lot less (money) than they think initially, but Google plays for the long term and they're smart to be there," said Phil Noble, founder of PoliticsOnline, a site that provides Internet tools and strategies for campaigns. "The Internet and politics is a revolution, and Google and these guys are not going to lead the revolution, but they don't want to get shot in the back either."

"Relative to all of the dollars in advertising, I don't think political advertising is going to be particularly profound in the foreseeable future," he said. The company hopes to learn from how campaigns use Google's tools and simply wants to help the democratic process, Schrage added.

As campaign spending continues to ratchet up - and as it continues to move from expensive TV spots to more targeted online avenues - Google will be ready to reap the benefits.

"The Google network allows you to do very interesting things with targeting, with messaging, etc., in a way that you could never pull off with a 30-second TV spot," Derek Kuhl, who is leading a New York-based political sales team that will have three or four people, said.