Batten Award Honorable Mention
America Online Inc., Dulles, VA
For its innovative "Election
Guide 2000," a one-stop election shopping site with local voter guides organized
by ZIP code, polls, virtual candidate debates, issues charts and a "Presidential
Matchmaker" that matched voters and candidates on the issues. The guide was
done in partnership with CBS News. Twenty million families visited the Web site;
165,000 registered to vote.
Online Inc., Dulles, VA
We knew this year a record number
of voters would go online to find their election information. Our goal was to
give them the information they needed to make an informed decision in November.
We had an advantage: We've done this
before - in '96 and '98. The main thing [our users] were looking for was straight,
unfiltered, candidate information. So goal No. 1 was to provide that for them.
AOL has 29 million members and everything
that we did had to be universal and tailored to a mass market. Our online election
guide had all federal races, as well as state and local. The challenge was to
make it as usable as possible and inject some fun into it as well. The key was
localization, to allow users to input their ZIP code and get all of the information
and the names of candidates in their district.
We also wanted to give a more direct
line of communication to the candidates themselves. We had online chats with
all of the presidential candidates. We had virtual debate halls that both presidential
candidates participated in, as well as other candidates down to the dogcatcher
level. We had a president match application - people could input their stances
on the issues and get back their percentage match with each candidate and get
some better sense of a president who would best suit them.
It was a big success. Our traffic
exceeded all of our expectations. The localization piece has proved so valuable
it's being incorporated into a lot of AOL products. We just relaunched our government
guide, which through your ZIP or your city, you can find out all of the county,
state or federal government services in your area. So we're taking a tool that
was successful in the election and building it into other products.
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