The online advertising campaigns from both the Obama and McCain camps have raised awareness of paid search advertising. Search advertising works by selecting keywords that will cause your ad to appear.

A lot of campaigns and organizations fail to take advantage of the full potential of paid search advertising by not expanding upon their keywords and by having every ad link to the same page. The most effective paid search advertising campaigns creatively use keywords and specialized landing pages.

I will use the Obama campaign as an example of how to be creative with keyword ads. To clarify, this will be what I would do as the Obama campaign, not what they are actually doing.

The standard, less effective method of advertising would be to just use the keywords “Democrat,” “President,” “Barack Obama,” “Change,” etc. where all the ads direct to the campaign home page.

A more creative way would be to look into issue-based keywords and have them land on the issue page that addresses it. For example, one could use the keyword “net neutrality” and have it land on the page with Obama’s tech policy.

I think the greatest level of creative advertising comes by targeting searchers that are not actually searching for political information. For example, keywords such as “foreclosure,” “bankruptcy,” “insurance,” “tuition,” etc. could be used to find people that are searching information about things they are facing because of the Bush administration’s disastrous economic policies and have them land to the corresponding page of what an Obama administration would do to help.

Any organization or campaign that is considering investing in paid search advertising should try to think creatively about their keywords and where they land. Once you have come up with some creative solutions, make sure you track their efficacy through the statistics given by the search company. You will be able to see which of your ideas are working and which aren’t, and then you can tweak your keywords, ad copy, and pages based on what you have learned.

One important point is that in order for your creative keyword campaign to work you need to come up with relevant ad copy. If the keyword search is for insurance, make sure that the ad copy ties the problem to Obama’s solution.

Have any of done or are currently doing paid search advertising? What was your strategy and how effective was it? Let us know in the comments. Also, if you start an advertising campaign using the strategies mentioned in this post, I would love to hear from you about how it worked out.