Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If Tweets & Soundbites Rule, Do Speeches Matter?

When voters follow candidates and causes via media soundbites, a few lines of tweeted text or a mobile phone headline, does the old-fashioned stump speech even matter anymore? It's a question recently posed in an article in The National Journal, which noted that leading Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush didn't even give a speech at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Bush also has been notably "uninspired" in delivering big addresses so far this year, the article points out. Yet Jeb Bush is still confident he can meet an ambitious fundraising goal of $100 million in the first three months of the year. So why bother with scripted oratory? The National Journal asked pundits what purpose rousing campaign rhetoric still serves, and the experts cited four reasons to speechify. First, campaign speeches help gain donors. Traditionally, if donors see that a candidate can galvanize a crowd, they are more likely to offer support. Second, the discipline of creating cohesive arguments with advisors and staff is crucial to the internal campaign process, helping create a harmonious platform--and team. Third, speeches let a campaign set the public narrative, as President Obama did in 2008 with his rhetoric of hope and "change we can believe in." Finally, a great speech can simply win votes. Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter, summed up, "A great speech can make you remember something about what you believe, about who you are, about who you want to be. It's rare when that kind of thing happens. But it is important, and it is real." For the whole article, go to http://www.nationaljournal.com/twenty-sixteen/the-decreasing-relevance-of-the-campaign-speech-20150304

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Data Mining Seen Spurring TV Political Ad Spending

Thanks to innovations in "addressability" and data targeting, TV political ad spending in 2016 is forecast to climb to $3 billion, according to Comcast projections recently provided during "Advanced Advertising: Profiting From a Targeted Audience," an event hosted by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News publishing. Demand for spot cable is expected to see especially strong growth because it can offer targeted inventory late in political races. About 75% of ad buys come after July 4, with most post-Labor Day, when cable set-top box data and other data insights let campaigns reach a more precise cross-section of voting viewers. However, though addressability is practical on a regional or system basis, scaling up to a wider campaign is challenging. Michael Bologna, president of MODI Media, pointed out in a Broadcasting & Cable report that once a TV ad buy requires more than 30% of the U.S. audience, or CPMs over $5, broadcast "one-to-many makes more sense" than spot cable's addressability. Read the Broadcast & Cable story at http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/bc-events/data-mining-spurs-political-ad-buying-advancedad/138701

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In Political Races, E-mail Lists Outpace Social Buzz

E-mail beats social in political races. At least that's the takeaway from The Washington Post political blog, The Fix, which recently asked veteran digital campaigners for advice on 2016 strategy. The experts' advice can be summed up by Laura Olin, who previously was the outbound director of social media for Obama's reelection and now is a principal at Precision Strategies: "E-mail is still the largest driver of fundraising and a volunteer program. Social is a drop in the bucket compared to that." Nick Schaper, former director of digital media for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and now the president and CEO of Engage, agreed that "e-mail is still the killer app." In reaching potential voters and donors, e-mail offers broadest reach (85% of American adults over the age of 18 use e-mail), rich targeting (data firms have built detailed profiles around e-mail addresses), and a way to directly re-contact the best prospects for more support and dollars. However, the digital marketing pros also urged campaigns to embrace social media. A basic social presence today is key to conveying legitimacy as well as organizing. "Social is obviously the best place to take advantage of network effects, like people getting their friends to do stuff for us," Olin pointed out. And for both e-mail or social networking, making it mobile-friendly is now essential, they all agreed. The outline of a good mobile strategy per Schaper: "Making sure that people can donate with one click. Making sure they can encourage their friends to do the same. Making sure that they're storing credit cards when appropriate. Making it easy for folks to give when they want to give, because that moment's going to pass." For the whole article, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/13/in-politics-a-great-e-mail-list-still-trumps-a-buzzy-social-media-account-and-its-not-close/

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Despite Digital Growth, Mail Still Leads Budgets

Don't let stories about online and social media politicking distract your campaign planning from the proven direct marketing leader: direct mail. Note that direct mail will top overall marketing budgets this year despite all the chatter about e-mail and digital content, predicts the Winterberry Group. At a forecast $45.7 billion spend for 2015, direct mail is showing only a 1% growth, but that still puts mail well ahead of an expected e-mail spend of just $2.3 billion, as well search dollars of $26.9 (including desktop and mobile). Although targeted digital display, including desktop and mobile promotions, has the strongest predicted growth (21.1%), it still comes in well behind mail at $28.3 billion in projected spending. Key factors driving strong direct-mail budget plans include lack of a postal rate increase in early 2015, rising mail volumes, strong acquisition mail investment to offset declining retention mailings, and a rise in digital-to-offline retargeting, according to the Winterberry study. Direct mail may also benefit from its proven ability in data-driven targeting--the Holy Grail of today's political marketing. Across channels, Winterberry predicts that 2015 marketers will invest more in data-driven promotion, with the top reason (from 52.7% surveyed) cited as the demand for more relevant, customer-centric (read donor-centric and voter-centric) communication. For an infographic summarizing results, check out the Direct Marketing News magazine article at http://www.dmnews.com/marketing-spending-in-2015-infographic/article/400487/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Digital Tool Aids Low-Dollar Campaigns on Right

For just $500, a local, small-budget campaign can now use targeted digital marketing, once a campaign weapon wielded only by big-budget political rivals. Targeted Victory, the digital political marketing firm that recently helped Greg Abbott become the new Texas governor, has joined with Facebook Ads to create the Targeted Engagement platform, and is making it available to any campaign with $500 and a right-leaning agenda, reports Direct Marketing News. The new platform combines internal and external data on likely Republican voters and donors, and then uses modeling to optimize media mixes. The minimum cost is $500, although campaigns will probably need to spend more like $10,000 to really leverage the power of the platform, per Targeted Victory co-founder Michael Beach. Beach explained to DM News, "With a lot of our senatorial candidates last year, we found that we could reach 75% of target audiences on Facebook. This is a powerful tool, because it allows you to compete with smaller resources. On TV, they're missing about 30% of possible voters." The Targeted Engagement SaaS platform targets across desktop, mobile and TV, while its Facebook upgrade adds the ability to post images, links and videos with no minimum buy. See the DM News report at http://www.dmnews.com/getting-elected-just-got-cheaper/article/399071/

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Can Campaigns Tap Instagram's Growing Clout?

Social media's political strategy has been so dominated by Facebook and Twitter that campaign marketers may have missed the swift rise of another social platform: Instagram. Thanks to a post by Aaron Blake on The Fix blog of The Washington Post for pointing out the growing political potential of Instagram. While Facebook still corrals the most Internet users, Instagram's photo-sharing service has now surpassed Twitter in terms of total users, per the Pew Research Center's 2014 data. More significantly, Pew found that Instagram's demographics skew strongly toward younger voters (53% of 18- to 29-year old Internet users), minorities (38% of African-Americans and 34% of Latinos, compared with 21% of white Internet users) and women (more women use Instagram than men). Those are the groups that made up the supposed "Obama coalition," and both Democrats and Republicans are courting them for a 2016 win. So no one should be surprised that, in his recent State of the Union address, President Obama concluded his praise for astronaut Scott Kelly's yearlong stay in space to prep for a Mars mission by telling Kelly, "Make sure to Instagram it." Campaign marketers may want to take the hint and start planning how to reach Instagram's key voting blocs by sharing some persuasive images. For details of Pew's social media data, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/04/why-the-two-parties-need-to-figure-out-instagram-now/

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Will Voters 'Like' New Facebook Political Videos?

Political campaigns expanded use of video ads on Facebook and other social platforms in 2014. But if campaigns like Facebook video, they'll have to make changes to get voters to "like" them back in 2016, according to a recent article by Derek Willis for The Upshot website of The New York Times. Previously, many political videos were just re-purposed TV ads, either run on the candidate's Facebook page or as a "pre-roll" clip before another YouTube video that users actually wanted to watch. For political video ads to really leverage social media impact, they will need to be in the "feed" as ads, and grabbing attention in just a few seconds. That means 2016 campaign videos will have to be designed specifically for the Internet rather than TV, digital ad consultants predict. Plus, while social media has a great potential audience, data shows that politically active Facebook users rarely cross party lines and mainly share with like-minded followers. So tapping the wider reach of a social network like Facebook also will mean producing more distinct online videos customized to specific audiences. "Campaigns will need to produce vast quantities of customized messaging," Connor Walsh, a Republican digital consultant, told Willis. "And with a cap on the frequency a user is shown the same ad, campaigns cannot rely on repetition to drive home their message." Instead of repetition, video content will be challenged to use a few seconds of title and image for an immediate hook that inspires engagement and sharing. Yet while grabbing viewer attention, social video content will have to straddle the line between serious policy and the over-the-top "red meat" that can backfire, especially outside the base, warn digital media experts. Clearly, winning over social networks with political videos will not be an easy task. For the whole article, read http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/upshot/coming-to-your-facebook-feed-more-political-videos.html