Thursday, September 22, 2016

Google Offers New Election Search Trends Hub

Whether campaigning at the national, state or county level in today's digital-first environment, political pros want to track what engaged voters care about in real time, and what better gauge than Internet activity? Enter the newly launched Google Trends Election Hub, a trove of free research. Search Engine Land recently reported on how the new Google hub site takes a deep dive into this year’s election-related search trends across the United States, with real-time reports on president and vice president candidate search queries, by state, plus search data on state and county political issues. And if you wonder how engaged the electorate is online, Google reports this year’s election-related searches are up 240% over the same period preceding 2012’s Election Day. Just some of the goodies you can cull: The hub home page has a chart graphing national search interest in each candidate over the previous week, as well as links to daily state-by-state search interests, voter registration searches, and the top election issue-related searches by state during the past week. There are also charts graphing the number of “Vote for [presidential candidate]” searches during the past week, and tracking of searches for “how to vote,” which Google reports is at its highest rate ever. At the state level, candidates and causes can drill down to the county level on issue interests; for example, while the economy is the most searched issue on average across the swing state of Florida, immigration is more searched in southern counties in that state. There's even a YouTube election map so you can see how many people are watching Trump vs. Clinton videos. Check it out at

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Targeted Digital, TV Ads Mark Political Milestones

In 2016, major political campaigns that don't embrace targeted, programmatic digital and media advertising are simply on the wrong side of history, implies a recent Adweek article. The article presents an evolution of political advertising compiled by Videology, a digital video ad platform that works with political campaigns on both sides of the aisle. There's a handy infographic that starts back before the Founding Fathers promoted revolution and shows how technology is speeding up and raising the stakes. You can see that the first meetings of Massachusetts town halls in 1633 have been replaced by Facebook town halls with national reach. James Polk unveiled a durable political tool, the first campaign slogan, back in 1844, but 2016 campaigns that want to leverage a rallying cry turn it into a hash tag for millions of Twitter followers. And since presidential contenders George W. Bush and John Kerry invited voters to their dueling websites in 2004 nomination speeches, and President Barack Obama inaugurated a social media strategy to woo younger voters in 2008, political digital advertising has exploded. In fact, spending on political digital advertising is expected to top $1 billion for the first time in 2016. More than half the digital ad budget will be used to target social media sites this year, the infographic reveals. In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower launched the first TV political ads, and now, per Borrell Associates, the bulk of the projected $11.7 billion spent for political ads in the 2016 election cycle will go to local broadcast television at $5.9 billion. That's a spending record, but the increased use of TV ad targeting technology is what Videology spots as the significant shift; Hillary Clinton's campaign especially now uses addressable TV advertising to target TV ads to specific households based on demographics and set-top boxes. Adweek quotes Videology's Mark McKee, SVP of North America: "This idea of more addressable ways of which to connect consumers is something that, hands down, everyone is talking to us about. It's not about these mass market pushes that they're thinking about and strategizing most of their time. It's much more about 'Where are the places that we need to make the biggest difference with a very targeted message?'" For the article and infographic, go to

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How Presidential Hopefuls Score on Social Media

Social media has been making political news in 2016, from Donald Trump's controversial tweets to Bernie Sanders' millennial "like"-ability. So how do all the presidential hopefuls compare in terms of their social media ground game? In a recent Fortune magazine article, the analytics team of Hootsuite social media management rated the candidates on five key categories of social performance: impact, engagement, reach. sentiment, and authenticity. It should be no surprise that GOP front-runner Donald Trump comes out on top, using social media as part of a three-pronged strategy of interdependent, mutually reinforcing use of rallies, media coverage and social buzz. On the theory that any type of attention is better than no attention, Trump wins with impact, reach and authenticity, even though he is weaker than other candidates on engagement and sentiment (more negative social mentions). Close on Trump's heels is Democrat challenger Bernie Sanders, who succeeds with strong engagement, impact and authenticity, despite lack of a planned strategy. Bernie's young followers have created a collective social energy for him that his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton can envy. Nevertheless, Democratic leader Clinton comes in third overall thanks to her huge reach (second only to Trump); she has 3.1 million Twitter followers, 3.1 million Facebook likes, successful use of Instagram and early embrace of Snapchat. She also scores higher on positive sentiment. Meanwhile, Republican Ted Cruz trails in fourth place with weak reach and tepid sentiment inspiration; Cruz counts just 3.2 million followers on Twitter and Facebook compared with Trump’s 14.5 million, for example. And John Kasich is dead last, in delegates and social power, with just 292,000 followers on Twitter and 286,000 likes on Facebook. For the detailed analysis, read

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Political Digital: Why Google, Facebook, Twitter Rule

Political campaigns are forecast to spend over $1 billion on digital advertising this election cycle, and they have more online, social and mobile options than ever before. But so far, just three platforms are set to claim most of the political digital ad spend--Google, Facebook and Twitter--reports AdExchanger, a digital marketing trade publication. Political campaigns tend to end up with Google or Facebook even if they buy via a political ad network or independent media/technology seller, the report notes. One reason is that political ad buying involves long-term planning and reserved buys of short duration, which is very different from the iterative testing and optimization that independent agencies are used to handling for brand advertisers. The leading digital platforms also have benefited this election from the disruptive impact of "earned media," the free coverage that GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump used in trouncing the Rubio and Bush campaigns despite their big paid-media spends. Paid-media effectiveness doubts have sent political operatives looking for safe bets--and that benefits proven digital media incumbents. The Digital Big 3 have further honed their edge by aggressively hiring political insiders with Democratic or Republican connections in building their account teams. The AdExchanger article cites recent VP of policy hires such as a GOP congresswoman for Google, a George W. Bush aide for Facebook, and a senior Democratic aide for Twitter. Plus, Facebook and Google have developed new tools specifically tailored to politicos. Facebook offers targeting of "political influencers" who actively consume and share political news on the platform, and, new for 2016, voter file matching. Meanwhile, Google has introduced a beta tool just for presidential candidates, Posts, which gives them some control over which content is displayed in a search of their name. For more, read

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Programmatic Ads Need Emotional Power to Win

Programmatic advertising--using data and automation to reach the right audiences in real time--is a key innovation of this political cycle. But anyone who thinks robotic ad technology allows robotic creative is going to lose, warns a recent Adweek magazine post by C. Sean McCullough, regional director of sales at AOL Advertising. Political campaigns and causes caught of up in mastering the technology would do well to make sure they are not neglecting the message. The voter is still the ultimate target of the technology, and "voters, much more so than consumers, are motivated to action by having formed emotional connections," McCullough argues. Programmatic ad campaigns use precise targeting analytics, intelligent algorithms, frequency modeling, creative customizing, feedback and retargeting to cut inefficiencies and costs while avoiding target saturation and ad fatigue across a range of devices, including mobile. But the creative launched must still connect the viewer with the candidate and elicit an emotional response to motivate action. Campaigns wondering how to infuse emotional connection via music, images and words can turn to political science studies that have shown fear is a powerful negative persuader, especially for change, while feel-good "enthusiasm" is a positive mobilizer, especially to reinforce existing beliefs. For an overview of research on the use of emotional motivators in political ads, check out For McCullough's passionate post, read:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Digital, Radio Push Up Political Ad Spend Prediction

The 2016 election is going to be even more expensive than expected for campaigns and causes, according to the latest update by ad spending monitor Borrell Associates. Borrell boosted its political ad spending estimates by 3.1% in March, raising spending for the year by $357 million, to a projected total of $11.7 billion before Americans go to the polls on November 8. Surprisingly, the upward revision in expected ad spending is not coming from the presidential race, where spending projections were actually lowered by 1.7% thanks to GOP candidate Donald Trump's unprecedented use of "earned media." The report notes that for every dollar the Trump campaign has spent, it has received $189.80 in free media coverage, way above Hillary Clinton's $26.60 in free coverage for every dollar spent. The presidential race still leads ad spending, but state assemblies, local offices and local ballot issues are a close second, expected to contribute just over $1.7 billion each. The media distribution of ad budget growth is shifting, however. With broadcast TV inventory clogged by campaigns and PACs, half of the increased political ad spending will go to digital and radio, and local media in general, per the report. Meanwhile, direct mail and telemarketing spending are also seen grow as part of the "ground game" to recruit new voters. Based on current trends, Borrell foresees a very different political ad landscape by 2020, with a decline in broadcast TV spending and growth in digital outreach. To download the "2016 U.S. Political Ad Spending Update" with state-by-state estimates and breakouts of spending by races for President, Senate, House, Governor, Attorney General, State Assemblies, county/local elections and ballot issues, go to

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Electorate Most Diverse in History

The electorate in 2016 will be the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, according to the most recent report from the Pew Research Center. Nearly one in three eligible voters (31%) will be Hispanic, African-American, Asian or another racial or ethnic minority, up from 29% when President Obama last won the White House in 2012. And the demographic shifts are expected to continue. While the 156 million eligible non-Hispanic white voters still outnumber the 70 million eligible minority voters, the non-Hispanic white voter growth is slower and will continue to lose electorate share. Already the group dropped from 71% of the electorate in 2012 to 69% in 2016. In fact two-thirds of the net growth in the U.S. electorate has come from racial and ethnic minorities, up 7.5 million eligible voters since 2012, compared to the addition of just 3.2 million non-Hispanic white voters. Non-Hispanic whites are losing ground because of the higher mean age of the group, leading to a higher death rate and a smaller percentage of new young voters who turned 18 since 2012. Immigrants, though a contentious issue in the current presidential race, are not a key growth driver for any group but Asians. Some 60% of new Asian voters came via naturalization, compared with just 26% of new Hispanic voters since 2012. However, turnout rates may reduce the initial impact of these demographic shifts, adds Pew Research. In 2012, 64% of non-Hispanic white and 67% of black eligible voters actually cast ballots, compared with just 48% of Hispanic and 47% of Asians. For more data, see