Saturday, March 17, 2012

Montana Senate Race, internet ads

It seems that almost anywhere the MH browser has gone over the past month, there was a good chance of encountering brash (dare we say “garish,”) ads attacking Congressman Rehberg, Sen. Jon Tester’s Republican challenger.

The wonders of the modern internet -- while to the younger generation, the technique might be “oh, so 40 seconds ago," to a less sophisticated observer, it seems that political campaigns have unfortunately discovered the clever software that detects the URL, localizes it to Montana, and inserts ads across a variety of platforms and websites. You know the type: “Hey Montana! Billings housewife learns to make $1432 a day working from home!” Or, “Hey Billings: plastic surgeons don’t want women to learn about this simple way to look 20 years younger!”

Slick use of technology, but one wonders if those responsible for the ads realize just how annoying these ads are to the user -- and whether they know that these kinds of crudely “personalized” ads are about as persuasive as are emails informing one of the opportunity to transfer $7 million from an abandoned Nigerian bank account.

We have long known that this U.S. Senate race (which could prove to be as decisive in determining control of that body as was Sen. Tester’s win-by-a-nose in 2006) would likely prove to be the most expensive and ugly in Montana history -- which is saying something. The two are pretty evenly matched -- Sen. Tester with the advantage of incumbency and the national fundraising it can tap into, Congressman Rehberg with 7 successful state-wide races under his belt in a GOP-leaning state.

But we have been used, heretofore, to having said unpleasantness played out in television ads, which are easy to mute or fast-forward through. Internet browsing has traditionally been less saturated with political ads, at least in Montana. No longer, it sadly seems. Good thing we have internet packages to watch professional basketball and baseball (spring training is underway!) -- which are as of yet blessedly free of most advertising.

So far, Sen. Tester appears to be leading Rep. Rehberg in the war to see who can have the least clever and most abrasive internet ad presence. One hopes that Sen. Tester will continue to press this “advantage” all the way through until the fall.

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