Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Political Campaign Veterans Champion Direct Mail

Campaign strategists may argue over digital vs. TV ad dollars, especially as studies show waning TV ad reach, but is anyone arguing the efficacy of direct mail? Certainly not Denny Hatch, direct marketing pro and a veteran of past Republican direct mail success. Hatch recently wrote an article for Target Marketing magazine with the assertive title "The Secret of Winning Elections: Direct Mail." Citing the wisdom of political direct mail pioneers -- such as conservative fundraiser Richard Viguerie -- and his own experience in the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign, Hatch champions direct mail as a tool for political persuasion as well as fundraising. Direct mail reaches voters directly and personally in a way that cannot be muted, skipped over, or clicked off, he points out. It offers a way to hone a winning message in terms of issues and image through measurable, scientific testing. Best of all, political direct mail can be self-financing via issue-related fundraising appeals. Benefits of such an issue-oriented fundraising effort include the creation of an engaged group of voters who "bet on a horse" (contributed) and so are more likely to not only vote themselves but to convince others to vote for the same "horse," notes Hatch. Of course, another ancillary benefit is the gathering of data on hundreds of thousands of future supporters and donors. This quote from Viguerie's new book Takeover may put the role of political direct mail in perspective for today's campaigners: "When I started in 1961, direct mail was the second-largest form of advertising, second only to television. Today in 2014, direct mail is still the second-largest form of advertising." For the complete Hatch article, see http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/the-secret-winning-elections-direct-mail/?params=print

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

PACs Try More Positive Ad Approach in 2014

Super PACs and other outside campaigners for candidates and causes, long masters of the attack ad, are now trying to "accentuate the positive," to borrow from the Mercer lyric. Even the conservative Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity is making an effort to show a sunnier side, according to a recent story by The New York Times. In fact, 16% of the Americans for Prosperity spots so far this year have been positive, compared with zero positive ads in 2012, the NYT reported. By another estimate, Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, its affiliated nonprofit, have produced 29% of their ads with a positive spin to date, compared with just 1% for all of 2012. The NYT story cites a Kantar Media/CMAG estimate that 29% of all ads by outside groups have been positive this election cycle, compared with 20% at the same point in 2012. Political pundits provide several reasons for a shift to the positive so far this year: Negative campaigning actually is spawning positive ads, as PACs launch responses to other PAC attacks. Positive campaigning is also seen as useful early in the election cycle to help define a candidate for voters and provide some immunity to later critical broadcast spots. Some political strategists also cite lessons from 2012, when Mitt Romney's campaign failed to develop an effective counter to negative ads (Kantar Media estimates 62% of all spots about Romney were negative). For the whole story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/18/us/politics/in-a-switch-some-campaign-ads-press-the-positive.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Digital Marketers See Bigger 2014 Election Impact

Digital marketers for both Republicans and Democrats unite on one theme: Digital as a deciding factor in the 2014 midterm elections. A key factor is the declining impact of TV, even though it still gets the lion's share of campaign ad budgets. Al Urbanski, senior editor of Direct Marketing News, recently reported that Targeted Victory, a Republican digital strategy team, and Well & Lighthouse, a Democratic digital support group, had teamed to poll likely voters and found that 29% hadn't even watched television in the previous week! Respondents reported spending an average of just 10.2 hours a week watching video content on TV, compared with 12.1 hours viewing content on alternative channels such as desktops, mobile devices and DVRs. The quoted conclusion of Targeted Victory's co-founder Zac Moffatt, who was the digital director for Mitt Romney's presidential bid: "You can't go into election day with one out of three voters not having seen your message and think you've done your job." Moffatt's strategy is to put more effort into high-end data analytics to deliver segmented, personalized digital messaging, with a tilt toward e-mail over social media since e-mail is a proven fundraising tool, along with direct mail, and is more scalable than social channels when it comes to response, reported Urbanski. For the full story, see http://www.dmnews.com/digital-marketing-prowess-could-sway-midterm-elections/article/341999/

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Will Super PACs Outspend Campaigns in Midterms?

Super PACs are on track to outspend political campaigns in terms of ad dollars for the first time in midterm elections. Elizabeth Wilner, senior VP at Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, is quoted by Advertising Age as predicting that "exponentially more" Super PAC money will be spent this year and that, for the first time, Super PACs will outspend campaigns. Kantar Media tallies that, from Jan. 1 to March 25, the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity already has aired 14,624 spots in nine Senate races, and the pro-Democrat Senate Majority PAC has aired 6,061 spots in six of those races. The catalyst for much of the Super PAC spending? Attacks on the Affordable Care Act. As a result, even though there are fewer tight races in expensive broadcast markets and fewer wealthy individual candidates on the campaign trails, broadcast ad spending should still edge up above the midterm spending of 2010, Kantar projects. For more on which races are likely to attract the most ad dollars, read http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/super-pacs-outspend-political-campaigns-midterm/292377/

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Political Marketers Divided on TV vs. Digital Spending

One of the hot debates among political marketers has nothing to do with policy or candidate; it's about budgeting between traditional TV campaigning and digital media. A younger tech-savvy generation is urging a boost in e-mail, online ads and mobile messaging, while seasoned campaigners counter that TV advertising still draws the biggest single share of viewers, justifying its lion's share of spending. Recent data bolsters the digital fans to some extent: A new poll -- sponsored by Google, the Republican digital firm Targeted Victory and the Democratic agency Well & Lighthouse -- found that just 48% of those survey said live television was their primary source for video content (down from 56% in 2012). TV ads are losing ground to "new technologies," the poll found, with 41% of respondents regularly or occasionally using a tablet or smartphone while watching TV, and TV viewers reporting increased viewing of prerecorded programs that allow them to skip past ads. "That means, for political campaigns, reaching younger, more diverse swing voters through live TV advertising alone is problematic," concluded the pollsters in a report by The Wall Street Journal Capital Bureau. But amping up e-mail and mobile communications introduces new problems: Focus groups conducted by the same pollsters found participants were more likely to see campaign e-mails and mobile ads as invasions of personal space, while TV and online ads were seen as less intrusive. For the complete news story, see http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2014/03/20/should-campaigns-spend-less-on-tv-ads/