Thursday, September 14, 2017

6-Second Ad Trend Challenges Political Campaigns

Political campaigns are facing a new challenge in the fast-paced digital ad race. Political marketers, who have honed standard 30-second video ads for TV and online, must now adapt to a trend to 6-second ad spots, reports a recent article in Campaigns & Elections magazine. With public attention spans shortening, corporate marketers are declaring that 6 seconds is a more effective format, especially for reaching "a younger demographic." The article notes that Google’s YouTube has been holding a contest to promote the format, that Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg recently told investors that the length was ideal for sales pitches, and that Fox TV debuted its first ever 6-second ad slots during the "Teen Choice Awards" in August. Although both Democrats and Republicans want to court the "younger demographic" in 2018, political media consultants express misgivings on their ability to leverage the trend, citing concerns about condensing a message into a 6- or 10-second "snackable" ad creative that will still persuade. They worry that even today's micro-targeting of voters will not overcome a poorly executed appeal. "We found the perfect voter," Casey Phillips, a media consultant with a GOP client roster explains for the magazine, "we can buy [what he is watching], but what is it that we’re going to tell him in 10 seconds, and get it done in a way that doesn’t suck. That’s where we're all having problems." Budget limitations pose another hurdle for political marketers.  Political consultants see the costs to produce and edit down 30-second spots into shorter versions, as well as spread those ads across the many available digital and traditional media formats, as putting added strain on campaign budgets in the next election cycle. For more on the trend to "snackable" ads, read

Thursday, August 17, 2017

'Memes' the Word for Today's Political Donors

Donors to political campaigns and causes are being drawn to a new strategy for political influence: viral digital. In addition to funding TV ads and PACs, The New York Times reports that deep-pocket donors are now bankrolling partisan organizations that specialize in creating catchy, shareable memes, messages and videos, especially on social media platforms. Outfits ranging from Occupy Democrats to the alt-right Milo Inc. are gathering donors who hope that their streams of aggregated links, captioned images and short videos will garner funds, votes and real-world action. While operatives across the political spectrum are being attracted now, the bandwagon got rolling with the Trump campaign's success with Twitter and other social platforms, to the point where a study found that nearly two-thirds of the most popular election tweets were either anti-Clinton or pro-Trump. The Times story cites many new participants from the left/progressive side of the aisle today, including David Brock, a well-known Democratic operative, who started an effort last year to raise $40 million to support Shareblue, a left-wing viral news outfit to rival alt-right publisher Breitbart. And there's John Sellers, a left-wing organizer and former Greenpeace activist, who started a Facebook page called The Other 98% to promote environmentalism and other progressive causes, which now boasts 5 million followers and funding of its nonprofit affiliate by donors such as billionaire George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations. The low cost for potentially high impact is especially attractive to causes and donors. Per the TimesStand Up America, a progressive group run by Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, reaches, on average, 10 million people weekly by only spending "in the low six figures" to produce a Facebook page of shareable graphics and news. For more detail, read the full story at

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Game-Changer? Programmatic Ads, Survey Wed

A union of consumer survey data with programmatic advertising could help political campaigns pre-screen audiences for better ad targeting in the 2018 midterm elections. Two digital companies, Lotame, a data management platform for advertisers, and Survata, a market research/survey firm, have announced a partnership to create what they are calling a "segment validation product," per a recent Adweek story. Lotame will supply more than 8 billion data points to Survata, which will ping back against those points and survey an actual audience. A client of the partnership product can then independently target the right participants with ads. Andy Monfried, founder and CEO at Lotame, explained to Adweek that the new partnership will enable clients "to automatically verify third-party data validity as part of their data strategy" and "deliver on the promise of 'real-time' actionable insights through the use of enhanced data." Cleveland-based ad agency Marcus Thomas is already in line to test the system, according to the report. But it's easy to see the potential appeal to political marketers--for example to improve targeted response for fundraising-based digital advertising. Chris Kelly, Survata CEO, acknowledged to Adweek that, while brands will likely always be the primary focus, "this could indeed be used for political audiences, too." So expect to see some 2018 political candidates and causes drawn to a promise that their programmatic media buys can be launched with "full confidence the audiences they are targeting contain the right people," as Kelly says. For the complete story:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Political Ads Wither in Trump Presidency's Chaos

If your political or advocacy ad campaign is confused about what, when and where to promote, you're not alone. Even though politics is leading the news cycle, driving traffic online and in broadcast media, the chaos of the Trump presidency is leaving many political advertisers in limbo, according to a recent AdExchanger article by James Hercher. Jordan Lieberman, politics and public affairs lead at the ad targeting firm Audience Partners, explained to Hercher that “the legislative calendar is so messed up, it’s not leaving time for organizations or activists to really plan a campaign.” Typically, the year following a presidential campaign sees many high-profile bills and public opinion ad campaigns. This year, without any bills or coherent legislative direction, special interests and advocacy groups are hesitant. “There’s this element of the unexpected now,” noted Grace Briscoe, vice president of candidates and causes at ad tech company Centro. “Clients that previously planned out three to six months ahead around Congressional recesses and the legislative calendar are doing maybe week-long tactical campaigns.” Four political digital ad buyers told Hercher that soft demand has decreased rates for media packages offered by publishers as diverse as the Daily Caller, Roll Call, McClatchy, RealClearPolitics and Daily Kos, and that even national news publishers with broader audiences are feeling the ad demand pinch. In fact, brand and advocacy advertisers apparently find high-profile political coverage today so anathema, regardless of partisan viewpoint, that they are dodging it altogether, with Briscoe reporting a marked drop in brand and advocacy clients interested in appearing next to political stories. See

Monday, May 22, 2017

Why Direct Mail Is Still Top Political Campaign Tool

At Beyond Voter Lists, we specialize in supporting political direct marketing, especially when it come to targeted data for postal efforts. So we're happy to read that one takeaway from this year's major political marketing conferences is the continued value of direct mail. In Campaigns & Elections magazine, Elena Neely, national lead for the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS) Political Mail Outreach efforts, describes five reasons she supports that conclusion. Let's start with an obvious one: Mail is still the only campaign channel with 100% voter reach since you have to have a mailing address to register to vote. Next, direct mail is a highly targetable medium, and political campaign success today relies more on targeting specific audiences than mass marketing. The proof is in Borrell Associates’ 2016 political advertising analysis report that more targetable media, including digital, cable and direct mail, “gained $1.7 billion over 2012 spending levels while radio, TV and newspapers lost nearly $1.3 billion.” Next, direct mail retains a place in the campaign promotional mix because there just is no one-size-fits-all medium for audience targeting; as the Pew Research Center found, people are influenced by multiple information sources, with nearly half of 2016 respondents learning about the presidential race from five or more types of sources, ranging from cable television to social media to campaign e-mails. Direct mail also fits easily into a multichannel effort; for example, campaigns can use a mailer's QR code to digitally connect voters to a social media platform or campaign website. Yes, different generations and demographics respond to direct mail differently, but it works well across the board. A 2016 USPS survey not only found that 46% of baby boomers ranked mail as their preferred political ad format but younger millennials also rated political mail “important” for state elections (82%), local elections (80%) and even national races (76%). And when it comes to vital swing voters, 58% said mail was “very or somewhat helpful,” and that compares with television (55%), digital ads (48%) and e-mail (46%). Finally, as attention spans shorten and media noise escalates, direct mail can use tangible creativity to grab share of mind, with dimensional mail, audio mail and video mail as examples. For the complete article, go to

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Political Campaigns Face Social Media Changes

Social media strategy is essential for the success of political campaigns and causes today. As the Pew Research Center reports, a majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public turned to social media sites to learn about the 2016 presidential election. Social success in 2016 doesn't mean campaigns can rest on their laurels, however. A Digital Information World post by Anthony Bergs--including a handy infographic from CJG Marketing--cites a list of social media changes and trends that political marketers should include in 2017 strategies. For example, improved social targeting got a lot of buzz in 2016, with campaigns embracing the effectiveness of Facebook's “Lookalike” audiences. But in 2017, machine learning, artificial intelligence and access to increasing amounts of data--from demographics and behavior all the way to forecasting of intent-- will support even more precise ad targeting, provided campaigns make the investment in audience data and analytics. The response-getting power of digital video is well-proven, so it's no shock that 48% of marketers are planning to add YouTube videos in 2017.  Campaigns and causes would be wise to also invest in an internal or external video content development team and live streaming,  now available on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter's Periscope, YouTube and Snapchat. Next to video at the top of social marketing agendas this year is "influencer marketing," with 84% of marketers planning at least one social media influencer campaign to find and leverage sources of followers and engagement. One reason for the influencer search is that the ability to generate free organic traffic via social media is waning thanks to social platform algorithms favoring paid ads and squeezing out organic content. With Facebook and Twitter offering just 2% to 4% organic reach for posts in 2016 (and falling), most political budgets need to include paid social ads. But here's good news: Chatbot technology is on the horizon and promises to handle a mass volume of user conversations one-on-one with customized content; Facebook's current Messenger bot is a harbinger of more to come. For more social media trends, check out the article and infographic at

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Social Media Listening Informs New Political Strategy

Digital marketing to a targeted audience with relevant messaging is a must in politics now. But how can a campaign develop the required digital audience understanding to be most effective? One answer is social media listening, per a 2017 post by Augustus Franklin, CEO of CallHub, supplier of voice and SMS broadcast software. Franklin cites 11 social media monitoring insights to help turbocharge your digital marketing strategy. Here are just his initial five tips: First, design a social media monitoring blueprint by creating an extensive list of relevant keywords and hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Find the people who follow your campaign or cause (or brand), have tweeted about it, or have "liked" relevant posts. Second, expand on the existing network of people who have shown interest in a keyword or hashtag and ask them to tweet with a certain hashtag, or share a post with their network, to garner the followers of your followers. Try to capitalize on advocates with influence in online communities outside the social networks, such as blogs or forums. Third, turn general demand into specific engagement by identifying social activity that aligns with your candidate or cause and reach out to these prospects with messages configured to their expressed interests/needs. Keep track of those who subsequently like, share, post, etc., because that engagement is a step closer to conversion (to a volunteer, donor or voter). Fourth, merge your social media inflow data with your marketing outreach list, and directly contact the socially engaged to ask them to spread your message. And fifth, use social listening to learn what each target audience segment wants to hear, from their perspectives, so you can specifically address challenges and needs in messaging. To get even more targeting insights, also monitor the activity on social networks of opponents and allies to see what people are saying. These insights can help to map engagement paths from interest to advocacy and to craft testing for analysis of what marketing works best. For all 11 tips, go to