Search advertising isn't new, but anecdotal evidence suggests it's becoming more popular as a political tool. Peter Greenberger, head of Google's D.C.-based issue and advocacy team, would not say how many political groups or individuals are buying ads around its search results, saying the company can't pinpoint how many clients are using its AdWords program because getting involved doesn't require contacting Google.
Here's a rundown of some of the major campaigns that are or have been popping up around Google.
• Freedom Works advocated against the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the auto bailout and the stimulus package. It also ran a campaign urging Congress to allow domestic drilling to lower gasoline prices. Its current campaign targets Blue Dog Democrats on the stimulus; the group also advertised alongside these House lawmakers' names in the summer pushing them to not support the bailout of Fannie and Freddie.
• The left-leaning Drum Major Institute for Public Policy is running ads alongside lawmakers' names that send users to TheMiddleClass.org, which tracks and grades members of Congress on domestic issues.
• The conservative American Issues Project is running ads alongside the names of lawmakers from both parties to protest how the stimulus money is being spent. Regardless of which ad users click on, they're sent to a general landing page showing the group's latest TV ad.
• Freedom Project, the PAC of House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, pushed for a GOP alternative to the stimulus.
• The National Association of Realtors urged Congress to pass housing reforms and infuse money into the real estate market.
• Ford aimed to set itself apart from the other two of Detroit's Big Three during the auto bailout in the fall.
The Employee Free Choice Act
• Communications firm Projections Inc.
• Communications firm Labor Relations Institute Inc.
• Center For Union Facts
• Public Service Research Council
• American Rights At Work
Political Interests, Races And Candidates
• America's Voice is running an immigration reform search campaign alongside specific lawmakers, such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
• Foreign policy advocacy group Peace Action West urged President Obama to not retain Robert Gates as Defense secretary.
• EMILY's List advertised alongside female candidates as they received prime-time coverage during the Democratic National Convention.
• Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., advocated for passage of his Healthy Americans Act.
• Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., ran a search engine campaign for his 2008 Senate race.
• The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees advertised for its economic recovery campaign "Make America Happen. Again."
• Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's PAC is advertising to raise money and support for the former Republican vice presidential candidate.
• Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is advertising for his gubernatorial bid in Virginia this year. He's using his name and that of his primary opponent, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, as keywords.
• Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is running a search list campaign for his 2010 Senate run, using keywords like "stimulus" and "Missouri Senate."