“Gone are the days when a political campaign can rely on one medium only. A political campaign can’t be singularly reliant on television and feel they are reaching people.”
– Joe Fuld, The Campaign Workshop
In the past, Presidential candidates have been limited to press conferences and other traditional forms of advertising, such as phone calls and postal mail. In 2016, people are spending 40% more time online than tv (eMarketer) and have watched over 110 million hours of candidate and issue related video on YouTube (ThinkWithGoogle). Now that the Internet and social media play such a pivotal role in daily life in America, it is crucial that politicians have a fully developed digital marketing strategy if they want to stand out from their adversaries. For the first time ever, it is estimated that over a billion dollars will be spent on digital marketing for the November election; this is up from $259 million in 2012 and $22 million in 2008 (Cynopsis Digital).
Just as marketers use social media and digital marketing as tools to attract new customers, stand out from their competitors, and gain brand awareness, politicians use those same tools to attract new voters, further their lead in the presidential race and spread awareness of their stance on important issues.
Programmatic Advertising is Key
1to1 Media gained some insights from Chris Choi, the deputy director of media at the digital strategy and technology providers for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns (Blue State Digital) and senior advertising strategist on the “Obama for America” team in 2011. When asked what marketing strategies appear to have been heavily utilized in the 2016 election, Choi said, “In 2012, campaigns had yet to master demand-side platforms, programmatic was new to many advertisers’ vocabularies, and campaigns largely relied on personas for targeting…In 2016. We’ve seen a real shift: Programmatic advertising has become the benchmark.”
In 2016, almost 60% of election-related searches have come from mobile devices; this is three times the number of mobile searches conducted during the 2012 election (Think with Google). According to Opera Mediaworks, when they surveyed 1,600 US adults who keep up with news of the presidential election, 63% were interested in multichannel news consumption.
What is Programmatic?
The main purpose for using programmatic advertising methods is to make the best use of data possible in order to improve targeting strategies. Data provides the foundation for programmatic advertising to work well. In programmatic advertising, data is reduced to the individual or customer level, which can provide much more accurate targeting than say, a geographic region or buying a placement on a specific website.
Programmatic allows for opportunities like lookalike audience modeling, cross-device targeting, and more. There’s also a good chance that if your advertiser is using programmatic methods, you’ll have access to preferred deals, where the prices of blocks of inventory are essentially fixed before going to auction. Preferred deals extend budgets and allow for more accurate, customer-level targeting.
- Accurate targeting
- Creates value (cost effective efficiencies)
- More data
How Politicians and Marketers Use Programmatic
Both politicians and marketers are no longer targeting entire cities with generic ads. Programmatic advertising allows for targeting demographics by gender, age, and income, but also more advanced targeting methods and insights, as shown below:
- Customer psycho-graphics & Interests
- Customer geography – like city, zip code and IP Clusters
- How many ads the customer saw before converting
Access to third-party data allows politicians and marketers to identify who is interested in what they have to offer. They can then place ads on specific websites that might capture the attention of the people who would be most receptive to those ad topics. For example, Donald Trump designates 16% of his total online advertising budget on websites in the “Arts and Entertainment” category, while Hilary Clinton designates 25% of her total budget on news and political websites. (AdNews).
Advanced programmatic platforms, such as Google’s Doubleclick, combine huge search and display inventory to give politicians and marketers the ability to segment their audience based on demographics, interests, and other data while giving them access to millions of online publishers. Politicians can inform locals about an upcoming rally, just as marketers can inform locals about an upcoming promotion or sale. Voters may start to notice ads on various sites reminding them to vote, attend a local rally, or informing them about a politician’s stance on an issue. It is estimated that Google will have earned $400 million political ad dollars by the end of 2016 from its video inventory, search, and display.
Google isn’t the only company serving ads during this election cycle. Facebook now has almost 1.6 billion monthly active users. This is 60 percent more than during the 2012 election cycle when it crossed the 1 billion mark- this makes it an ideal place to advertise to potential voters (Government technology). According to Business Insider, 40% of all digital ad spend will have been spent on Facebook during the election cycle, totaling $428 million. Facebook has also unveiled new tools, such as “call to action features at the end of campaign videos and voter file uploads which will help campaigns better understand their supporters.”
Programmatic has really changed the game for both politicians and marketers alike. Programmatic advertising lets marketers reach their target demographic, faster while moving seamlessly across devices like never before.