Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Midterm Lesson: Web Ad Space Isn't Unlimited

Political campaigners are learning a surprise lesson in the midterm election battles: Premium space on the web is not infinite. Late-comers to the increasingly crowded digital space are finding that they've missed all the tastiest spots for video and display ads. A recent story in The New York Times underscored that savvy political players now must make pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when and where it matters most. Online video spots are especially hot, and there are two main types: those a viewer can skip after just a few seconds, and “reserved buy” ads that run in their entirety before another video begins. The ads that can be skipped are unlimited but sold by auction so the price goes up as demand increases closer to Election Day. The ads that cannot be skipped, those that viewers are forced to watch for all 15 or 30 seconds before they can see content from their original search, are limited. Campaigns are hurrying to reserve this video ad type in advance to lock in a good price and ensure prominent display. Video ad space on popular sites like YouTube, Hulu, Yahoo and top news outlets is in short supply; there is already almost no remaining YouTube inventory for reserve buys in some very competitive races, the New York Times reports. Banner ads and home-page takeovers, in which ads from a particular buyer are the only ones prominently displayed on a website’s home page, are also being scooped up fast. “Smart campaigns book early, the same way that smart brands book television early,” Andrew Bleeker, the president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital marketing company, told the NYT. “We reserve most of the inventory for our clients in the spring to make sure something like this isn’t a factor.” For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/campaigns-find-ad-space-finite-even-on-the-web.html?_r=0

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Political Ads Grab 20% of Sept. Cable TV Spend

With $1 of every $5 spent on cable TV advertising in September dedicated to political ads, at least per independent cable ad rep firm Viamedia, cable fans are seeing their usual beer and insurance ads pushed aside by midterm election messages this year. As reported recently by The Fix. The Washington Post political blog, the share of political ad revenue is way up this year in Viamedia stats -- compare September's 20.5% share for political ads with the 13% share of four years ago -- and still growing. Why the cable blitz? Viamedia theorized to The Fix that not only has easing of campaign finance restrictions pulled more money into political ad spending but also that data technology for cost-effective, narrow targeting of cable audience, especially geo-targeting, is drawing dollars away from broadcast. As proof of the current tightly targeted TV ad effort, Viamedia notes that just 16 channels comprise 92% of its political ad revenue in 2014. To see the cable networks leading in political ad share across 30 Viamedia markets, check out http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/08/1-of-every-5-spent-on-cable-tv-ads-in-september-was-political-per-one-firm/

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

GOP Ads Pick 'Big Bang"; Dems Like 'Big Brother'

Midterm elections are bonanzas for local TV stations, but there's been little hard data on political ad placement and targeting, Thanks to The Washington Post, we now have some more insight into where Republicans, Democrats and Independents are putting their TV ad dollars. A research team, as reported by Philip Bump of The Post's The Fix political blog, looked at 6,000 online filings with the Federal Communications Commission by local TV stations on behalf of Senate candidates during the period from Aug. 1 though the fourth week in September (including October ad buys). No surprise, Bump reveals that the most popular shows for political ad placement had the word "news" in the title (64,000 mentions in the 6,000 filings), followed by citing of the "Today" show. For daytime viewers, Dr. Phil was the most Republican talk show choice, while fans of Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres were less likely GOP ad targets. Independents were more likely to post ads on game shows, while Democrats dominated the Hollywood gossip space. Late-night TV, with its younger audience, was also favored by Democrats, while Republicans were more likely to reach out with Sunday ads, especially on "Fox News Sunday," of course. But the prime-time TV ad face-off is where the big money goes. Political hopefuls across the spectrum vie for time during football games since it is the sport that leads in viewership. Bump's review also found Republicans more likely to place ads on "Big Bang Theory," while Democrats favored ads on "Scandal" and "Big Brother." Even reruns got their share of political wooing; the venerable "Andy Griffith Show" was a GOP pick, for example. For more, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/09/29/republicans-advertise-on-the-big-bang-theory-democrats-buy-ads-on-big-brother/

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dumb, Data-Driven Fundraising E-mail Backfires

Denny Hatch, successful political fundraiser and direct marketer, recently posted a rant against Democrats in Target Marketing magazine. Why? Because he received three almost identical Democratic fundraising e-mails in the space of six hours. Not only did the delivery overkill annoy him, but all the e-mails begged for money without a hint of issues, policy stakes or personalized reasons/benefits likely to trigger a positive response. The data-driven digital marketing appeals reduced him to a statistic in a way he found insulting to his intelligence and to the basics of good marketing practice. (Before dismissing his criticism as partisan, note that he claims to have voted for President Obama--twice.) Hatch urges political fundraisers to consider why"old-fashioned" direct mail fundraising continues to be successful -- including "incorporating many collateral benefits into a pitch for money" and use of standard offer/pricing/testing to develop a winning response package. Hatch isn't anti-digital; he just wants digital done right. "If offer/price/testing works in direct mail, it will work in e-commerce," he asserts. Our takeaway: Take a hard look at your digital fundraising to make sure you aren't creating more rants than responses from donors. To see samples of the e-mails that earned Hatch's ire, go to his post in Target Marketing magazine at http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/denny-s-daily-zinger-dithering-dippy-despicable-democrats/1

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are Weak Mobile Efforts Hurting 2014 Campaigns?

Investing in digital and social media advertising is a basic for most campaigns and causes today. But are they paying enough attention to the mobile face of their efforts? A recent post for Streetwise Media's InTheCapital argues that many campaigns in the 2014 midterm races are missing out on votes and donation dollars because of weak mobile strategies. Post author Tess VandenDolder notes that too many political mobile sites are still slow and glitchy, with tiny hard-to-read text. Plus, volunteer and donation sign-ups require clicking on multiple links and filling out complex forms. That poor mobile experience can really undermine success, she asserts, because campaigns get roughly 50% of their online traffic today from mobile sites. Why haven't more campaigns followed in the footsteps of the 2012 Obama campaign's "Quick Donate" process, which accounted for $3 million in donations alone? It sent supporters text message solicitations and allowed prior donors to donate again with just the click of a link, since personal information was already saved in the system. VandenDolder posits that one reason current campaigns still lag in mobile development is quite simply the cost: An excellent mobile site can cost $12,000 to $16,000, she notes, which is a big chunk of change for smaller campaigns, especially for an effort that may be obsolete after the election. But in a time when mobile is ubiquitous, the return on investment is significant, and campaigns should think twice about leaving so much on the table by tossing away their mobile card. To read the complete article, go to http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/09/11/political-campaigns-still-just-dont-understand-mobile-and-are-losing-money-because-of-it/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Top GOP Data Firms Partner for Midterm Campaigns

Leading Republican data firms are joining forces ahead of the midterm elections, a testing ground for 2016 strategies in data-driven campaigning. According to a recent Advertising Age story, the two most prominent voter-data companies on the right, the Data Trust and i360, plan to align their databases, allowing clients using either system to tap into some of the same information about voters. The goals of Data Trust and i360 list exchange agreements are both to reduce data duplication through the partnership and to create a new ability for campaigns to access updated information via either company's system. Beyond refreshed addresses and phone numbers, the firms regularly update voter profile information, such as issues that interest particular voters, how much voters have donated, whether voters have volunteered for a campaign, etc. However, details on which data points will be shared -- such as the voter scores that the Republican National Committee (RNC) uses to quantify likelihood of voting Republican -- were not divulged to Advertising Age reporters. Meanwhile, Democrats show no signs of integrating the databases of the two main providers of data to the left -- NGP VAN and Catalist. This means that when an organization on the left, such as Planned Parenthood, works with Catalist, the updated information it filters back to that database is not also shared with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voter file managed by NGP VAN. Instead, the DNC seems to be moving to make "The VAN" its official data platform for centralizing development of apps, ad platforms and analytics software, according to the article. For the full story, go to http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/republican-data-firms-agree-voter-data-swap/294762/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Digital Ad Explosion Impacting Midterms and 2016

Digital advertising is seeing explosive growth in the 2014 midterm elections. A recent Politico magazine article cites estimates by Borrell Associates that $270 million will be spent nationally on digital campaigning, a 1,825% increase from 2010 when tablets first impacted the political scene. By 2016, Borrell sees online political spending at almost $1 billion, surpassing newspapers, direct mail and telemarketing for the first time. "If you’re trying to hit males 18 to 34, you probably want to be all digital," Amanda Bloom, a GOP consultant at BASK Digital Media, declared at last month's San Francisco conference hosted by Campaigns & Elections magazine. Campaigns are eager for the digital results they see in campaigns like Iowa's GOP Senate hopeful Joni Ernst, whose low budget Internet ad "Let's make 'em squeal" (noting her experience in hog castration) went viral and propelled her from third to first in the primary. Of course, the online tech giants -- Google, Facebook, Pandora and others -- are prepping for the political ad bonanza with new Washington strategists and election-oriented sales staff, per Politico. And ad planners for television, still the big dog of political spending, are also adjusting tactics to complement digital: Cross-promotional TV ads now urge voters to donate online and "like" Facebook, Instagram,Twitter and YouTube pages, while major TV ad buying agencies are touting in-house digital teams, Politico reports. For the full story, go to http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/2014-elections-digital-advertising-110322.html