Page last updated at 10:11 GMT, Tuesday, 6 October 2009 11:11 UK

Tory hopefuls urged to buy up ads

Google
Candidates were told they should consider buying key advert slots

Election candidates have been told to buy up adverts which appear if anyone searches Google for schools or other local landmarks in their constituency.

They heard it was a way of reaching voters on subjects they cared about and so "becoming part of their lives".

Conservative internet chief Rishi Saha said an "incredibly important" part of the coming election campaign would also be building up e-mail lists of voters.

He was speaking at a fringe meeting about how best to campaign online.

Mr Saha said the Conservative Party was now in the third phase of its online development with the launch of the myconservatives.com campaign website.

This allows people to get involved or campaign for the party without having to be a member and also allows people to telephone-canvass from home.

Facebook

This built on the first stage - of getting established online with things like Webcameron - and the second stage which was building up the infrastructure such as developing "opted-in" e-mail lists.

The Google event, at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, also explained candidates needed to check on what words had driven people to their website - another way of seeing what visitors were interested in.

They were warned that to make the most of the internet's campaigning potential they had to accept "losing control" of their material - with the viral "yes we can" pro-Obama campaign last year cited as the best example.

Conservative blogger Iain Dale, who is seeking selection as a candidate in Bracknell, said it was also very cheap to advertise on social media sites like Facebook - in his case a link to his website appears when anyone from his prospective constituency goes on Facebook.

The meeting heard that anyone who had been a candidate for a year should have built up a list of 1,500 e-mail addresses which can be used to boost campaigning and make it easy for people to make small donations using a similar system to the "JustGiving" charity website.

And Google representatives played down fears raised that the pay-per-click advert spots could lead to "Lib Dems going click, click, click" to rack up the bill for Tory candidates. New developments meant the search engine could now often spot where there was such an attempt.



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