Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marketing Agencies Rush Into Profitable 2016 Race

Campaigns and causes seeking 2016 election victory will be able to select from a wider array of marketing services than ever before. Al Urbanski, Direct Marketing News magazine senior editor, recently took note of the rush by marketing agencies, especially those from the digital arena, to jump on the profitable political bandwagon. Examples include lead optimization specialist Fluent, which just set up the Political Pulse digital polling service and opened a Washington office, as well as programmatic ad platforms like ChoiceStream and Xaxis, which just unveiled Xaxis Politics, which are courting campaigns with claims they can harness offline and digital data to pull ahead, with social and mobile in the new media mix. Old-school direct mail experts are still in the game, too, Urbanski adds and points to the Ben Carson campaign, which raised $12 million via mail fundraising even before the candidate announced for the presidency. But e-mail will be where the real action is, according to political marketers interviewed by Urbanski. And in the e-mail contest, competitive intelligence firm eDataSource puts Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton ahead so far, following the trailblazing of Barack Obama's e-mail blitz (20 e-mails to every one sent by opponent Mitt Romney) and segmented database (a 40 million name list compared with Romney's 4 million). Obama made marketing history by putting the small electronic "e" in electioneering, Urbanski remarks, so that while early GOP front-runner Donald Trump has made self-funding a selling point and aggressive Twitter his trademark, he may regret a lack of early "e" list building to turn donors and fans into voters down the road. See the complete article at http://www.dmnews.com/direct-line-blog/marketeering-turns-to-electioneering/article/453342/

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Campaigns Fueled by Varied Funding Burn Rates

Campaign fundraisers face a balancing act when it comes to "burn rate"--the proportion of cash intake to cash outlay in the same time period. Too high and they risk coming up short later; too low and they fail to invest enough for future success. Here are a few benchmarks from current presidential campaigns courtesy of a recent article by The Atlantic magazine. Ben Carson's fundraising raked in an impressive $20.8 million in the third quarter, but he spent 69% of it on efforts to raise more money, relying heavily on traditional direct mail and telemarketing, which have the advantage of growing grassroots support but the disadvantage of being more expensive than digital channels. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton had an even higher 86% burn rate, but she spent mainly on media buys, payroll and online advertising--outlay aimed at campaign infrastructure and future viability. In contrast to both Carson and Clinton, socialist Bernie Sanders is frugal, with a burn rate under 45%. He spent mainly on digital consulting and advertising, relying on ActBlue, an online platform for donations to liberal causes, for fundraising. ActBlue is a tool that gets donors by "gamifying" giving at low cost (less than 4% commission). Unfortunately for Carson and other GOP candidates like Ted Cruz, who also has a high burn rate per the article, there isn't a Republican equivalent for online donations. For more, especially about Carson's strategy, read http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/where-is-ben-carsons-money-going/410839/

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why the Carson Campaign Is a Facebook Fan

GOP hopeful Ben Carson's campaign is a fan of Facebook's political ad platform--to the point that Ken Dawson, Carson's head of digital strategy, calls it "the heart of our campaign" in an October interview with Scott Detrow of NPR's political news. Indeed, Carson's Facebook page has over 4 million followers for its posts, videos and candidate chats, Detrow reports. But Facebook's biggest appeal for Carson and other candidates is its ability to specifically target ads. Campaigns have three basic ad-targeting tools. Campaigns can import a list of existing supporters for ad promotion, for example; Dawson says the Carson team loads e-mail lists garnered from website sign-ups, donations, event attendance and other sources, and then tailors ad frequency, content and call-to-action by segment. To expand targeted ad reach, campaigns can also ask Facebook to build custom "look-alike" audiences, matching the characteristics of existing active donors, for example. Finally, campaigns can use the information provided in Facebook profiles and appended by Facebook's data partner Acxiom to select ad audiences by demographics such as location, age and gender, as well as by behaviors such as pages liked and purchase history. For more: http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/26/451271794/like-it-or-not-political-campaigns-are-using-facebook-to-target-you

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Music Themes for Campaigns Risk Legal Tangles

Today's political campaigns are set to music. Media-savvy candidates choreograph appearances with theme tunes for their signature messages and styles. And sometimes those music choices land them in legal trouble. Ask Donald Trump. The New York Times recently reported on the thorny issue of political music use, noting as examples R.E.M.'s early complaint about Donald Trump using “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and the more recent demand from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith that Trump stop using his band’s 1973 hit “Dream On” at campaign events. The disputes highlight a legal gray area over licensing rules for music in political campaigns, experts explained in the NYT article. For example, when Neil Young complained in June that Trump had used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” without permission, Trump’s campaign responded that it had obtained a so-called public performance license from Ascap, the music rights agency. In addition, venues where most major campaign events are held (convention halls, hotels, and sports arenas) often carry their own licenses from Ascap and BMI, another rights agency, that allow play of millions of songs in those agencies’ catalogs. Of course, the issue is complicated when the song use at an event is broadcast on TV and shared on social media. The protest letter from Steven Tyler’s lawyer to the Trump campaign even cited the Lanham Act, a federal law covering trademark and false advertising, claiming the song could be seen as a false endorsement. However, lawyers and copyright experts interviewed cited the difficulties of proving people actually thought of the music as an endorsement. In any case, campaigns will want to brush up on the legal nuances of music use. A starting point can be the Recording Industry Association of America's guidelines on copyright issues in music for political campaigns. With expanding media channels, legal confusion and polarized politics, campaigns don't want to risk having a lawsuit call the final tune. See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/us/politics/in-choreographed-campaigns-candidates-stumble-over-choice-of-music.html?_r=0

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

'Virtual Reality' Was One Loser in Democrat Debate

Virtual reality was on stage along with the candidates during the recent Democratic presidential debate as part of a CNN experiment with virtual reality (VR) startup partner Next VR. Anyone with a Samsung Gear VR headset (powered by a Samsung phone) was supposed to have an "immersive" experience of the debate, able to choose their own 180-degree views free of TV editing and in real time via live streaming. Samsung and HTC are both set to release VR devices for the holidays, and Sony and Facebook are planning their own devices for 2016, when Jupiter Research projects sales of 3 million headsets. But politicians worried about adapting presentation for a game-changing media can probably relax for this election cycle. Per a report to CNET by Max Taves, VR is "not ready for its close-up." While Taves' VR experience of the debate gave him the promised 180-degree views, the wide angles came at the expense of close-ups, he noted. So though TV viewers saw candidate and moderator faces and reactions clearly, Taves saw only distant blurs while wearing a heavy headset and holding an overheating phone to his face. NextVR co-founder D.J. Roller argued that the VR debut was still a forward step for a technology in development and promised,"That's as bad as it's going to get." But not good enough to be a political factor for current campaigns, we would guess. For the article, see http://www.cnet.com/news/not-ready-for-its-close-up-virtual-reality-makes-presidential-debate-virtually-unwatchable/

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie Theater Pre-Show Ad Firm Nixes Political Ads

To avoid expected political ad "negativity" in the 2016 election cycle, National CineMedia, whose FirstLook pre-show ad program plays in 1,600 movie theaters and reaches 700 million moviegoers annually, has decided to refuse all political advertising, reported a recent AdWeek magazine story. NCM did show some political ads during the 2012 election cycle, choosing only ads it judged to be positive or neutral. This time it expects a "sea of negative ads" and will make its theaters "politics-free zones," reports AdWeek. For national and local campaigns, NCM's decision removes access to a national reach that translates into a Nielsen rating above 7.0 among the desirable 18- to 49-year-old demographic, with no way for viewers to skip ads, notes the story. And for NCM, it means forgoing a slice of an estimated $4 billion in TV political ad spending. Cliff Marks, NCM president of sales and marketing, explained the decision to AdWeek: "We think brands are going to get really sick of having their image and their brand projected next to these negative ads. How is anybody going to remember your brand and message?" Marks said the company hopes appreciative brand advertising will compensate for any potential loss from missing political ads, but the decision is based on "doing the right thing." Read the full story at http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/why-national-cinemedia-saying-no-all-political-advertising-167570

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tips on Online Fundraising for Political Rookies

For rookie political campaigns, online fundraising can be daunting, appearing to require digital expertise in everything from website building to #cashtags and online video. But even those "starting from scratch" can succeed reassures a recent Campaigns & Elections magazine article by Laura Packard, partner in the Democratic digital strategy firm PowerThru Consulting. Packard ironically begins by warning neophyte fundraisers against rushing into the arms of an expensive digital consultant, especially one who offers to raise big bucks without a proven donor list. Instead, she suggests less costly basic steps to an online fundraising base. Start by being realistic about online fundraising goals, she advises. Direct mail, phone campaigns and big-donor meetings will bring in the bulk of donations; a digital effort is a valuable tool but a supplemental one. And while social media generates lots of buzz, the workhorse of online fundraising is still e-mail. So, Step No. 2 is to find a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to handle your e-mail deployment and response, ranging from small-file options like Constant Contact to NGP VAN used by most Democratic campaigns. Bottom line: Don't use a personal e-mail account that not only appears unprofessional but lacks good deliverability and response tracking. Third, build a decent website with a prominent e-mail sign-up and a way for potential donors to give via credit card. Website-building doesn't have to be expensive either; domain registration sites offer cheap/free tools to create web pages that are good enough for start-up. Finally, and most important, build that e-mail list; the bigger the list, the more money you can raise! For her suggestions on CRM options and list-building, go to http://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/2544/starting-from-scratch-here-s-how-to-hit-your-online-fundraising-goal