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

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kochs' $889M 2016 Budget Overshadows Parties

The political network overseen by conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on 2016 campaigns in "an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history," according to The New York TimesThe $889 million spending goal to influence both presidential and congressional races in 2016 was revealed at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, Calif. Five politicos, considered to be conservative "rising stars" by the Kochs and their roughly 300 donors, also received coveted invitations to the event, and four attended: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. To understand the growing power of Koch money, note that the Kochs' network--which includes groups such as Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America--spent a little under $400 million in the 2012 presidential election, compared with the $657 million spent by the Republican National Committee and its two congressional campaign committees. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 will put the Kochs' network on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee and will put special fundraising pressure on Democrats. "It’s no wonder the candidates show up when the Koch brothers call," summed up David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, in The New York Times piece. "That’s exponentially more money than any party organization will spend. In many ways, they have superseded the party." For the complete story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/kochs-plan-to-spend-900-million-on-2016-campaign.html?_r=0

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Learning From 2014 Political Direct Mail Successes

Direct mail proved its value as a fundraising and political engagement tool in many successful midterm bids, and the tactical takeaways can help campaigns hone mailings for the next political cycle. Paul Bobnak, archivist for Who's Mailing What! and research director for DirectMarketingIQ.com, recently winnowed through the mass of political mail from 2014 races and pulled out three tips for success. First, go big to make a big splash, he advises, citing as one example the 8.5-by-11-inch booklet mailed out by Democrat Tom Wolf in his successful bid to oust incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Second, use color, he urges, showing how outer envelopes with compelling four-color images and bold teaser copy stand out from the crowd of dull No. 10 mailers. Third, add door-to-door campaign tools to mailings to help put your donors and supporters on your street team. Bobnak highlights how a Democratic National Committee mailer not only included a sheet of stickers and two door hangers but also an outer envelope that folded out into a poster, a tactic that has proved effective for nonprofit donor drives. To see Bobnak's video presentation and examples, go to http://www.directmarketingiq.com/item/2014-political-direct-mail-tips

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hillary May Tap Texas Ad Agency Alums for 2016

According to a recent Advertising Age report, Wendy Clark, a Coca-Cola marketing executive and alumnus of Austin-based ad agency GSD&M, may join her mentor at GSD&M, co-founder and Clinton confidant Roy Spence, on the presumptive Hillary Clinton presidential campaign team. Clark shares Spence's philosophy of "purpose-driven" marketing, and there is speculation that this is the kind of branding strategy that could guide Clinton's campaign messaging. Clark, who is on leave from Coke to pursue a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" per an internal memo, and Spence, whom Hillary Clinton counted among "the best friends I ever had" in her 2003 autobiography, were both put on the list of potential Clinton team "message makers" by a recent New York Times blog post. Spence, who is known for the "Don't Mess With Texas" anti-litter campaign and who founded The Purpose Institute in 2008 to promote his branding philosophy, urges "purpose-driven" marketing to "play to your strength in the purpose of serving the greater good." Clark's implementation of that concept has stressed integrating owned, earned, shared and paid media, with social media at the center. Barbara O'Connor, emeritus professor of communications and director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento, summed up for Advertising Age: "I think [Wendy Clark's] skill set is one that [Ms. Clinton] certainly would like to have, because Wendy is very well known and is excellent at marketing to Middle America. And that's a group that whoever is running for president needs to focus on turning out." For the full story, go to http://adage.com/article/news/hillary-adland-message-makers/296647/

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winning Midterm Ads Told Voters 'I'm Just Like You'

Political ads, whether they go for positive vibe or negative attack, succeed by connecting candidates to the voters. A key way to do that is to convey the message that a candidate is "just like you," proposes an analysis of 2014 midterm campaign ads by Lynn Vavreck, a UCLA political science professor, writing in The New York Times' The Upshot section. Vavreck cites two contrasting "just like you" approaches that won. Joni Ernst garnered national attention for her Iowa Senate race with her now-famous hog-castration ad, promising to go to Washington to "make 'em squeal," but the heart of her campaign was to connect to Iowa voters with "just like you" authenticity, raising hogs on a farm and making biscuits at Hardee's restaurant. And the last two weeks of her successful Senate bid produced over 80% promotional and positive ads, focusing on government spending, budget and taxes. In contrast, Pat Roberts, the incumbent Republican senator in Kansas, kept his seat by producing 80% of ads that were negative attacks on President Obama and his policies--especially in the last two weeks of his campaign. It wasn't because his opponent was an Obama Democrat; his opponent ran as an independent. But by using attack ads, Roberts tapped into his electorate's disapproval and disappointment with Obama to show voters he was "just like you," Vavreck notes. Politicos gearing up for 2016 certainly should consider the power of "just like you" in planning campaigns. For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/upshot/midterm-political-ads-that-worked-and-why.html?_r=0