Using Online Voter Targeting in Campaigns - National Democratic Training Committee

Just before the election cycle kicked off last year, professors David Broockman from Stanford and Joshua Kalla of UC Berkeley released findings on their study they conducted showing the overall effects of traditional candidate campaign outreach on general elections.

The results are not what anyone in the traditional political or marketing advertising arena wanted to hear.

The futility of phone calls, door knocking, TV commercials, billboards, and direct mail performance is unsettling. Campaigns are heavily leaning on these methods to carry their candidate’s message to their state, county, city and district voters and the results are flat.

While the findings did show the typical political go-to-market strategies had an effect on primaries. The same tactics had virtually NO EFFECT on voters in the general election.

In spite of this study, campaigns will continue to dump billions of dollars into these same stagnant strategies over the next few weeks to try to win their races.

Those getting elected, however, will be the candidates who were successful in connecting their campaign messages to voters using all the tools now available to them.  The new focus must be on online voter targeting.

What is the Answer for Candidates Who Want to Get Elected in 2018?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the windstorm of available data.

Campaigns need to aggressively harness this data from online behavior and use it to their advantage. Not just 3rd party purchased data—but newer, richer, pinpoint streams including search, keyword, topic, transactional, contextual, social, unstructured and more.

Shifting strategy from the same old thing to a dynamic, data-driven, multi-message online approach is not as difficult as you might think.

Campaigns now have the ability to outline all of their core messages and formulate different conversations depending on the audience they need to reach.  Campaigns can speak to and target Democrats in one way, Independents in another and Republicans in yet another different language.

This gives the candidate the swift ability to maneuver in a way never before possible as the campaign unfolds.

Deliver Your Message

Focused data delivery in a geotargeted area is a great asset. But, campaigns need to think of geofencing in not such a rigid way. Run the tables and focus on multiple targets on a map to engage individual neighborhoods, streets – even down to the household level.

Think of this tactic around voting locations on election day.

What are people looking at from the time they get out of their car?

Answer: their mobile phones.

Use these last precious minutes to deliver final messages from your candidate. Successful strategists will look at geofencing in creative ways to suit their needs. Why IP match when you have a voter file to convert to specific individual geofences outlined by party? Thousands of messages geared specifically to the voters inside each dwelling is a game-changing strategy.

Delivery should be cross-channel too. Your choice of display ads, social media, sponsored content, and video can all be delivered on a desktop, mobile, tablet and smart devices, including even smart TVs.

Make Your Message Heard

Impression-based delivery is also a bigger “bang for your buck” overall. You are guaranteed a certain number of ads on websites people are already going to regularly.

Why risk paying for a forecasted audience based on a newspaper’s readership or station’s viewership when impression delivery is a slam dunk?

People may or may not open mail, or watch TV when your ad is running or happen to be listening to the radio at the exact moment your ad airs.

The majority of people skip commercials all together these days, courtesy of DVRs and the like, as they fast-forward through them while watching TV.

Think about that scenario in context with the study. How can you be sure your message is being heard?

The answer here is product placement.

You place the appropriate ad in front of an active user. If there is content on CNN, Fox News or your hometown paper relating to an issue and a voter in your district is reading this article, it stands to reason your campaign message on that issue might actually resonate with that reader compelling them to click on to the ad.

That single click directs the visitor (voter) to the candidate’s landing page on that specific issue. Included tactics such as retargeting using topics, keywords and contextual information should be automatic.

Your campaign messages need to go in multiple directions on multiple issues to multiple voters from multiple political parties. Ads appear on local and national sites in district creating local perception that candidate is relevant. Best of all? With back-end, behind the scenes access, you are able to see the activity on your site. None of the aforementioned media approaches can offer this.

Maximize Your Reach: Data-Driven Campaigns

All candidates want to maximize their ability to reach and persuade their constituents.

There will be winners and losers come Tuesday, November 6th.

But with so many key races across the country and so much on the line, why continue to do the same old thing when winners are getting elected by such incredibly slim margins?

How many races came down to just a few percentage points in the last election cycle?

The reality is that campaigns have hesitated in this promotion/delivery because they view many of these tactics as a risk. In reality, traditional media campaigns are now viewed as outdated and riskier than ever.

Politicians and strategists alike understand and ultimately agree. If you can create more awareness, resonate and mobilize more people at better pricing it’s a win for the campaign.

Data-driven online delivery connects the dots and speaks to thousands of voters in a very pointed, affordable and unique way. In fact, the practice is relatively mainstream. Big brand advertisers and retailers use these tactics every day.

Think of, for example, shopping online at Amazon. Then, an hour later, you see the exact shirt you were considering buying staring at you in the right hand rail of the next site you click on. Those ads are delivered in a brand-safe environment and the entire process can take mere minutes to design and employ. If necessary, change giving the candidate the firepower and flexibility to reach voters in a way never before possible. Using technology in this way is now winning elections. This is fact.

Data-driven targeting with online ad impression delivery is truly the candidate’s best hope for moving the needle and getting elected in 2018.

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