“Donald Trump” was the most-searched person on Google in 2016. That’s not a huge surprise; he was running for president in the most-watched election in the world – and won.

I can confidently predict that this search term will not abate this year. As Trump himself likes to remind us, he’s “unpredictable,” and the entire focus of the news can shift as quickly as it takes to type 140 characters.

This unpredictability and the controversy that Trump attracts forms an enormous opportunity for organizations and campaigns. Whether it be a controversial intelligence report, a march on Washington, or Trump’s signature policy issue – The Wall – the progressive resistance must be visible in the place people go to look for more information. This will be a presidency of moments and that is when search advertising can thrive.

With over 58,000 searches per second, it is clear that the majority of searches happen on Google. How Google manifests itself may change in coming years with the advent of voice-activated devices, but the principle remains the same. As advertisers, we can ensure our information is at the top of search queries and, crucially, can be there in real time. Sixty percent of Google searches happen on mobile. We use bid modifiers to ensure that mobile devices are where rapid response ads are served most.

To truly capitalize on big moments, preparation is required. That means preparing keywords, ad copy and targeting. But that preparation can pay off “bigly” if you can benefit from a spike in searches, like when Trump held a press conference on January 11 (shown below).

searched over time


Imagine if people searching for “Donald Trump’s press conference” (at least half are likely to be anti-Trump) had been served an ad asking them to sign up to join a progressive cause against him. Using negative keywords, broad match modifiers and bid modifiers, we can reduce the wasted impressions and clicks, bringing that percentage well above half. That cause could have benefited from hundreds or thousands of new members. And as any reader of Saul Alinsky knows, there are two sources of power: people and money. Combined with our fantastic fundraising team, the right search ad can increase both within hours.

The next few weeks, months and years will be a test for progressive groups and causes. Can we reconnect with people and effectively organize against Trump’s horrific agenda? For this, we must refer to one of the first principles of organizing: go to where the people are. The people are looking for answers on Google. Are you providing them?