Gov. Sarah Palin has found a way to profit politically from the self-inflicted drama that surrounds her. The Alaska governor's political action committee has been running what appears to be a fairly robust ad and fundraising drive in the wake of her announcement that she will be resigning from office.
Sources at Google point out that SarahPAC has been purchasing ads through its search engine in effort to benefit from the spike in people searching for the governor's name.
The political action committee has tailored its strategy since Palin announced her intentions to leave office. Initially Google users who typed "Sarah Palin" into the search bar were directed to a link to SarahPAC with the subhead: "Join Sarah Palin's Team. Sign Up Now To Be Part Of Sarah Palin's Official PAC."
On Tuesday, the message changed to: "Help Gov. Palin Rebuild The GOP. Donate Today."
The switch in language reflects a change in political perspective on the part of both Palin and her PAC. The governor has announced that upon leaving office she will devote her time toward national conservative objectives, including restructuring the Republican Party, rather than simply Alaskan issues. SarahPAC will serve as the fundraising basis for this effort.
Officials at the political action committee did not immediately return requests for a comment about the size and nature of their Google AdWord purchase. But officials with the search engine site said that while the purchase is evergreen (SarahPAC runs the ads regardless of when the governor is in the news) there is ample opportunity to profit from the current wave of Palin-related discussion.
"Google searches for 'Sarah Palin' are at their highest point since the election," said Galen Panger, a spokesman for Google.
As Panger noted, the term "Sarah Palin resigns" is currently the hottest topic among rising searches, followed closely by the items: "david letterman palin," "letterman palin" and "sarah palin letterman."
On Google's Hot Trends feature, Palin's name was ranked 15th on Friday. On Saturday, "Sarah Palin federal indictment" was ranked 36th on that list, while on Monday "Vanity Fair Sarah Palin" was ranked 43rd.
The increased online interest in Palin, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, provides a potentially huge financial boost to both her and her allies. Every time someone clicks on the SarahPAC link, the political action committee pays a fee because the AdWords system works on a cost-per-click basis. In the process, the PAC gets another viewer and potential donor. And when that donation is made, it gets another email address. The Obama campaign, Panger notes, said it saw a 15-to-one return on every dollar it invested in AdWord purchase.
"It is something that is part of a broader trend we are seeing," said Panger. "Campaigns and interest groups are starting organizing much earlier before campaigns and making major efforts to collect donations and email addresses."