Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Don't Let Sloppy Data, Proofing Spoil Your Mailing

Sophisticated data analytics and variable data printing are great tools for targeted political mailings--but they also make data quality and proofing essential to avoid mistakes that will cost dollars and votes. A recent post on The Campaign Workshop blog noted how data printing errors in an Arizona ballot cost that state tens of thousands of dollars in last year's election, and cited some practical ways to make sure your political mailings avoid a similar fate. Of course, the initial step that we would advise is to make sure you have updated, properly segmented and hygiened data files and mailing lists. As data professionals, it's one of our most important roles in working with campaigns and causes. But then we agree that mailers must build time in the production and mail schedule for the three key steps advised by the blog post. First, talk to your print and mail vendors before you start working on creative with a designer and data person. Direct mail production vendors have expertise in their equipment and can provide guidance about setting up art files and databases for best results. Second, get data to vendors as early as possible so they have time to alert you to problems before going to press. Third, ask for at least a dozen random set-up proofs before running the job, and cross-reference those proofs against the source data to be sure all variable data is in the right place and matches the source file. That's good advice from http://thecampaignworkshop.com/proofing-direct-mail/

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

GOP Hopefuls Face Online Ad Space Sell-outs

Even before all the Republican presidential hopefuls can enter the 2016 race, the hottest online ad inventory is selling out, especially for the New Hampshire and Iowa primaries, reports the National Journal. There were digital-ad shortages ahead of the 2012 and 2014 elections, too, but not so far in advance, note political pros and online sellers like Google. But, with the summer of 2015 still ahead, winter 2016 ad inventory is booking up in this presidential race. The ads that are selling out the fastest are those that automatically play on Hulu, YouTube and other Internet-based videos that users can't skip. With a field of nearly 20 GOP candidates, and super PAC money, the ad crunch is not surprising, and Peter Pasi, now vice president of political sales at Collective and a former GOP digital ad strategist, predicts "a huge shortfall." The ad space that will be available for late arrivals includes Facebook, which sells video ads at auction, so campaigns can't lock them up in advance, and YouTube's skippable ads, which are also sold at auction. But political strategists advise conservative campaigns to grab prime ad real estate early, especially since there is little penalty for pre-buying; most ad reservations can be cancelled later at no cost or for a small fee. Perhaps just as important, campaigns are urged to use more sophisticated data targeting than in the past to make the most of scarce ad inventory, avoiding wasted dollars by serving ads only to likely caucus-goers or primary voters. "It's BYOD--bring your own data--if you will," remarks Kenny Day, head of political-advocacy sales for Yahoo. For the full story, read http://www.nationaljournal.com/2016-elections/websites-are-already-selling-out-of-ad-inventory-for-2016-20150512

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Can Facebook Kick Up 2016 Political Donations?

Will Facebook become a more significant ingredient in the political fundraising mix of 2016 candidates and causes? Consider mid-term election research conducted by Facebook, as reported in a recent medipost.com article. Facebook tracked the Senate campaigns of Democrats Michelle Nunn of Georgia and Mark Udall of Colorado. OK, so the candidates lost, but their Facebook ads won in terms of donor power. Facebook found that not only did Facebook ads provide at least a 200% ROI but people who saw the ads gave more on average than those who did not. Specifically, people who viewed Udall's Facebook ad gave $47.87 on average, while those who did not see the ad gave an average $42.70. There are good reasons Facebook will be an attractive fundraising addition in 2016, argues a recent mediapost.com article by Shawn Kemp, co-founder of ActionSprout, which helps nonprofits optimize Facebook. Facebook has the deepest social reach: 42% of Americans have a Facebook account, compared with 19% on Twitter, the second-largest social network. Facebook offers attractive targeting options such as geo-targeting and look-alike audiences. And Facebook ads, while not a key donation driver alone, can have a multiplier effect in multi-channel efforts, as shown by Facebook's mid-term election experiments. So, for example, combining Facebook ads with an e-mail campaign to the same targeted list could boost giving per donor. For more, see http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/248996/facebook-advertising-matters-for-political-fundrai.html#

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Snapchat Enters Political Media Arena

A New York Times article recently noted moves by Snapchat, America's fastest-growing smartphone app, to enter the political media arena. With its more than 100 million users, most between the ages of 18 and 31, Snapchat's ambitions could have significant impact on 2016 election coverage for candidates and causes. One sign that Snapchat is serious about growing political content: It recently hired Peter Hamby, a political reporter for CNN, to head its emerging news division. While Facebook is talking with media companies about using their political content, Snapchat is moving to create its own content, leveraging resources to hire editors and reporters. Snapchat's "Discover" feature already allows media partners, such as CNN, to post content to the app every 24 hours on their own Snapchat channel, but Snapchat also has its own channel, which could increase political coverage under Hamby. Snapchat also has its "Live" app that allows the company to drop a digital boundary around an event, a "geofence," so that Snapchat users can upload their image or video "snaps" to be stitched into a story by Snapchat. For example, 40 million watched Snapchat's feed from the Coachella music festival over three days in April. Imagine the application to a political event. As the NYT story pointed out, Snapchat has the potential to bring millions of first-time voters and millennials into the political arena."There are a lot of young people who are just killing time on their phones, who are on Snapchat and are not getting all that much political news right now," Tim Miller, a communications adviser for potential Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, told NYT. "I doubt there will be any policy symposiums taking place on Snapchat, but you've got to find a way to reach people who aren't reading long-form political articles." Definitely a heads-up for campaign strategists! Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/business/media/campaign-coverage-via-snapchat-could-shake-up-the-2016-elections.html?_r=0

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

As Social Costs Rise, Will Campaigns Boost Search?

Social media gets lots of political buzz, but cost realities could soon see social ads fighting paid search engine marketing for a share of 2016 campaign budgets, suggests a recent article for MediaPost's Data and Targeting Insider. The cost-per-click price of social ads on Facebook, for example, rose 180% in the first quarter of 2015, which makes those ads more expensive on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis than many search keyword buys, especially on Yahoo and Bing. So how are presidential hopefuls juggling the online channels so far? Per SimilarWeb analysis reported by Laurie Sullivan's Data Insider article, some candidates like Republican Ted Cruz have opted to put more into paid search, yet, so far, those increased search dollars aren't necessarily paying off in site traffic. For example, Cruz, who spent more on paid search than other presidential bidders, reaped the second lowest percentage of search traffic to his website, only 11.28%, behind Democrat Hillary Clinton's 26.95% or even Republican Rand Paul's 19%. Fellow Republican Marco Rubio does get less from search than Cruz, with a mere 7.43% of traffic and most of that (92.87%) organic rather than paid, but Rubio claims the majority of his website traffic from social media, about 25.98%. Meanwhile, Democratic candidates and causes may be interested to learn that 22.72% of Hillary Clinton's website visits come from referrals, mainly from Politics1.com and Mashable.com. And if your campaign is curious to know where to troll for supporters on the web, note that visitors to hillaryclinton.com tend to visit sites in the interest categories of auto buying, computer and electronics, business and industry, and law and government, while marcorubio.com fans distinguish themselves by also frequenting sites in categories such as people and society, and religion and spirituality. For more, go to http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/248182/political-campaigns-and-the-race-between-social-s.html

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hillary's Campaign Logo: Follow the Arrow to Action

Hillary Clinton launched her presidential bid with a new campaign logo: two blue pillars with a rightward-pointing red arrow between to form a capital H. Social media wits, graphic design critics and political pundits may scoff, but a recent Target Marketing magazine article points out why Hillary's logo and its arrow could hit the political marketing bull's-eye. The article cites research from Bounce Exchange, for example, which has found that adding an arrow to online call-to-action improves conversion by 22%. So Hillary's campaign is placing her logo in crucial spots to aim eyes toward her comments and CTA requests to volunteer and donate now, and presumably to vote down the road. It's too soon to say that it's working, but the logo isn't hurting Clinton's drive to stay ahead of other candidates in converting followers and inspiring social engagement. Read more at http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/hillary-clinton-demonstrates-cta-know-how/1

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lobbying Pro Shares Advice on Wooing Washington

Getting and keeping the attention of Washington, D.C., decision-makers is a perennial challenge for business lobbies, special interest groups and nonprofit causes, especially as election year distractions increase. Here's some timely advice courtesy of a recent Direct Marketing News magazine article by Senior Editor Al Urbanski, who sought out longtime lobbyist Alex Vogel, former chief counsel to past Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and the current head of political analytics firm VogelHood Research. Vogel laid out some handy rules for winning Capital influence: 1) first know the "ask," the specifics of what you want from political power brokers, right down to the title of a bill and its underlying issues; 2) then know the elected officials you want to court and interface with them early and often via e-mails, phone calls, donations, town hall participation, etc., all the way to campaigning help; 3) don't snub the 22-year-old assistant along the way, advises Vogel, because "that's the person who makes the decision on your issue" in a city run by underpaid assistants who investigate and vet issues and sit by the politician's side in the committee hearing to provide advice; 4) build coalitions with those who are also affected by an issue or legislation to maximize clout; 5) let the national representative or senator take credit in the local community if things go your way, because what elected official doesn't love a photo op with constituents smiling about jobs/health/renewal/community, etc.; 6) don't be shy about sharing your political views along with donations or campaign support because business and politics, and charity and politics, definitely do mix at election time; 7) have an ongoing dialog with Washington decision-makers and influencers because, as Vogel counsels, "If you just think to call when you need something, it's too late." For the complete article, read http://www.dmnews.com/how-to-get-your-way-in-washington/article/408390/