Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Campaigns Must Arm to Win the 2016 Digital Race

Campaigns and causes will be competing on a digital battlefield as never before in the 2016 elections. A recent MediaPost.com article by Mike Werch, marketing manager of SocialCode, offered eight key digital strategies to boost message impact, expand voter base and capture donations. Werch advises: 1) target unaffiliated voters by serving digital ads to lookalikes, people with the same interests and behaviors as those in the voter, donor or e-mail subscriber files; 2) recapture donors with digital remarketing (use of Website Custom Audiences) to target people who visit a donation page but fail to donate; 3) apply digital insights across channels, using the creative test results of digital video to hone TV or print ads, for example; 4) improve primary audience response with digital geo-targeting, testing geo-targeted digital video to perfect expensive local TV ads, for example; 5) segment audiences for more digital leverage, using Facebook's rich user data, for example, to deploy ads relevant to targets' demographics, behaviors and interests; 6) do a local-interest digital campaign in an area before hitting the pavement, and follow up with conversion-focused ads to build mailing lists; 7) do digital "get out the vote" campaigning, messaging politically inactive Facebook users who also match political affinity targeting as an example; 8) test 2016's new and improved ad options for political campaigning, such as Facebook's lead ads for mobile sign-ups and conversions with pre-filled forms. For more detail, read http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/264971/how-2016-presidential-candidates-can-win-the-digit.html

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Avoid Pitfalls That Sap Digital Ads' Political Impact

Campaigns and causes are going to be pouring money into digital advertising in the 2016 races, with online political advertising expected to reach nearly $1 billion, over six times that of the previous presidential campaign cycle. But the power of digital advertising to reach the right person with the right message in the right environment can be undermined by a few common pitfalls, wasting precious dollars, warns a recent MediaPost article by Avi Goldwerger. For example, campaigns must realize that programmatic advertising is automated, so problems can occur when a programmatic platform is too centered on targeting user demographics and not enough on where the ad is actually placed. For example, a wholesome family-values candidate's ad focused on reaching males aged 25-54 could show up on a porn site! Campaigns need to use available tools to target the right environments on programmatic platforms and to block wrong placements across any media partner. Digital fraud and viewability are two other factors that can undermine ad effectiveness and waste dollars. Fraudulent traffic, according a recent industry report, makes up 10.9% of all traffic, warns Goldwerger. Most of the fraud is due to bot traffic (computer programs acting like humans and filling out voter forms or clicking ads) and phony Web sites. Lack of viewability, on the other hand, occurs when an ad is served to a real audience but is placed so that it remains unseen, say at the the bottom of a page where users fail to scroll down to see it. To target the 43% of digital media that will be viewed and free of fraud, Goldwerger advises campaigns to choose media sellers and programmatic platforms that operate with viewability as targeting criteria and that have media quality safeguards in place. For more, read http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/264708/digital-politics-seizing-the-right-ad-opportuni.html

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Marketing Pro Ranks GOP Hopefuls' Social Efforts

Social media branding is a must-have for today's presidential hopefuls, so how are the leading GOP contenders doing from a purely marketing standpoint? A recent MarketingProfs article by Jeremy Page, a network marketing blogger, provides one political outsider's ranking of the top six Republican presidential candidates based just on social media marketing performance. You may not agree with the rankings, but there are lessons worth gleaning. For example, Page puts Jeb Bush at the tail end of GOP contenders based on a lackluster social media presence (just 363,000 Twitter followers) and policy-oriented posts that create a persona without emotional resonance. Social media, especially Twitter, "isn't the place to be overly sensible and pragmatic," warns Page. Marco Rubio comes in fifth place with his strategy of keeping an uncontentious, low profile while building a social following (over 1 million Twitter followers). Page urges Rubio to do more to reinforce his brand as a "candidate of the people" with retweets and posts that leverage "your community for your social media content." Fourth place is awarded to long-shot Carly Fiorina for using social media to push a persona of openness, showcasing her willingness to answer questions via Q&As on niche, real-time streaming platforms like Periscope, for example. Ted Cruz gets a No. 3 position for an innovative digital strategy that stresses crowdfunding and gamification. Via Cruz Crowd, followers can recruit friends to join a personal Cruz Crowd donation page and then monitor money raised via Facebook and Twitter, plus earn game badges. With the competitive Cruz Crew app, players earn points based on actions to spread the word. Ben Carson is No. 2 thanks to his use of Facebook to leverage 4.6 million fans (compared with Hillary Clinton's 1.5 million and Trump's 3.8 million Facebook followers) via heartfelt long-form letters, plus polls and petitions to collect e-mail addresses. At the top of the heap is (no surprise) Donald Trump, who presents his tax plan on Periscope, hosts #AskTrump Q&As, and rallies fans on Facebook and Twitter with unfiltered "real" posts that keep him constantly in the media spotlight (for free). Page's takeaway: "Use social media to be controversial and troll the media." For more, see http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2015/29033/ranking-gop-presidential-candidates-according-to-digital-strategy

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Social Media Still Lacks Political Fundraising Power

Political and nonprofit causes eager to leap into social media fundraising are likely headed for disappointment, according to NPR's All Tech Considered report on digital fundraising. The article cites a new Adobe study showing that, of 43 million visits to about two dozen nonprofit websites, three-quarters of visitors arrived via web search or by directly typing the url. Only 3% followed a social media link. A Red Cross 2014 survey delivered similar bad news for social fundraising: While online solicitation and engagement helped to influence giving, donors said they were more motivated by in-person requests, e-mails and direct mail. Social media is "useful because people are seeing your issue," Michael Ward, a principal at strategy firm M+R that publishes the Benchmark Study, a nonprofit industry guide to online fundraising and advocacy, explained in the NPR story. "But then to actually get them to divert that knowledge into a donation, it really takes other channels, such as e-mail marketing or even direct marketing, to close that loop." One reason social lags in gathering dollars is that when users are scrolling through a social site like Facebook, they are unlikely to click to an outside website, especially one asking for credit card info. However, digital fundraising experts see crowdfunding, based on financial appeals for small sums from friends instead of organizations, as a social approach with promise. In fact, Facebook recently facilitated crowdfunding donations with the rollout of new fundraiser pages, which allow a nonprofit to describe a specific campaign and collect donations directly through Facebook, and to promote the pages via ads and shared posts with donate buttons. Available to select nonprofits for the holidays, fundraiser page signups are set to expand in 2016. For more: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2015/12/02/458008461/a-click-too-far-why-social-media-isnt-that-great-for-fundraising

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

In 2016 Race, Public Snubs Media Fact-Checkers

This election cycle has seen more than its share of candidate flubs, exaggerations and falsehoods, but it's the mainstream media fact-checkers who are getting bad ratings from the voting public, not political prevaricators. GOP front-runner Donald Trump also may lead in untruths, for example. A recent NBC News report notes that fact-checking project Politifact rates 41% of Trump's statements as "false" to date, and 21% as "pants on fire" false. Ben Carson has 43% of his assertions labeled false by Politifact, with 13% at the worst pants-on-fire level. The Democrats' lead candidate Hillary Clinton is not seen as 100% truthful either; Politifact rates 11% of her statements as false and 1% as pants-on-fire wrong, per NBC. Why aren't media call-outs of such political dishonesty affecting poll numbers? The NBC story supplies one explanation: According to a new Pew Research Center study, the American public has more distrust for the news media than ever before, with a whopping 65% saying the news media has a negative impact on the country, up from 57% in 2010. That's a worse rating than respondents give for popular villains like banks and large corporations, and close to the disfavor allotted Congress. The more conservative the respondent, the more likely they are to be down on the media. Pew found that 82% of surveyed conservatives thought of the media as a negative force, which may explain why media challenges bounce off Trump among his Republican fans. For more, read the NBC report at http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/booing-fact-checkers-how-low-trust-media-shaping-2016-n468986

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Marketing Agencies Rush Into Profitable 2016 Race

Campaigns and causes seeking 2016 election victory will be able to select from a wider array of marketing services than ever before. Al Urbanski, Direct Marketing News magazine senior editor, recently took note of the rush by marketing agencies, especially those from the digital arena, to jump on the profitable political bandwagon. Examples include lead optimization specialist Fluent, which just set up the Political Pulse digital polling service and opened a Washington office, as well as programmatic ad platforms like ChoiceStream and Xaxis, which just unveiled Xaxis Politics, which are courting campaigns with claims they can harness offline and digital data to pull ahead, with social and mobile in the new media mix. Old-school direct mail experts are still in the game, too, Urbanski adds and points to the Ben Carson campaign, which raised $12 million via mail fundraising even before the candidate announced for the presidency. But e-mail will be where the real action is, according to political marketers interviewed by Urbanski. And in the e-mail contest, competitive intelligence firm eDataSource puts Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton ahead so far, following the trailblazing of Barack Obama's e-mail blitz (20 e-mails to every one sent by opponent Mitt Romney) and segmented database (a 40 million name list compared with Romney's 4 million). Obama made marketing history by putting the small electronic "e" in electioneering, Urbanski remarks, so that while early GOP front-runner Donald Trump has made self-funding a selling point and aggressive Twitter his trademark, he may regret a lack of early "e" list building to turn donors and fans into voters down the road. See the complete article at http://www.dmnews.com/direct-line-blog/marketeering-turns-to-electioneering/article/453342/

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Campaigns Fueled by Varied Funding Burn Rates

Campaign fundraisers face a balancing act when it comes to "burn rate"--the proportion of cash intake to cash outlay in the same time period. Too high and they risk coming up short later; too low and they fail to invest enough for future success. Here are a few benchmarks from current presidential campaigns courtesy of a recent article by The Atlantic magazine. Ben Carson's fundraising raked in an impressive $20.8 million in the third quarter, but he spent 69% of it on efforts to raise more money, relying heavily on traditional direct mail and telemarketing, which have the advantage of growing grassroots support but the disadvantage of being more expensive than digital channels. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton had an even higher 86% burn rate, but she spent mainly on media buys, payroll and online advertising--outlay aimed at campaign infrastructure and future viability. In contrast to both Carson and Clinton, socialist Bernie Sanders is frugal, with a burn rate under 45%. He spent mainly on digital consulting and advertising, relying on ActBlue, an online platform for donations to liberal causes, for fundraising. ActBlue is a tool that gets donors by "gamifying" giving at low cost (less than 4% commission). Unfortunately for Carson and other GOP candidates like Ted Cruz, who also has a high burn rate per the article, there isn't a Republican equivalent for online donations. For more, especially about Carson's strategy, read http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/10/where-is-ben-carsons-money-going/410839/

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why the Carson Campaign Is a Facebook Fan

GOP hopeful Ben Carson's campaign is a fan of Facebook's political ad platform--to the point that Ken Dawson, Carson's head of digital strategy, calls it "the heart of our campaign" in an October interview with Scott Detrow of NPR's political news. Indeed, Carson's Facebook page has over 4 million followers for its posts, videos and candidate chats, Detrow reports. But Facebook's biggest appeal for Carson and other candidates is its ability to specifically target ads. Campaigns have three basic ad-targeting tools. Campaigns can import a list of existing supporters for ad promotion, for example; Dawson says the Carson team loads e-mail lists garnered from website sign-ups, donations, event attendance and other sources, and then tailors ad frequency, content and call-to-action by segment. To expand targeted ad reach, campaigns can also ask Facebook to build custom "look-alike" audiences, matching the characteristics of existing active donors, for example. Finally, campaigns can use the information provided in Facebook profiles and appended by Facebook's data partner Acxiom to select ad audiences by demographics such as location, age and gender, as well as by behaviors such as pages liked and purchase history. For more: http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/26/451271794/like-it-or-not-political-campaigns-are-using-facebook-to-target-you

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Music Themes for Campaigns Risk Legal Tangles

Today's political campaigns are set to music. Media-savvy candidates choreograph appearances with theme tunes for their signature messages and styles. And sometimes those music choices land them in legal trouble. Ask Donald Trump. The New York Times recently reported on the thorny issue of political music use, noting as examples R.E.M.'s early complaint about Donald Trump using “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and the more recent demand from Steven Tyler of Aerosmith that Trump stop using his band’s 1973 hit “Dream On” at campaign events. The disputes highlight a legal gray area over licensing rules for music in political campaigns, experts explained in the NYT article. For example, when Neil Young complained in June that Trump had used his song “Rockin’ in the Free World” without permission, Trump’s campaign responded that it had obtained a so-called public performance license from Ascap, the music rights agency. In addition, venues where most major campaign events are held (convention halls, hotels, and sports arenas) often carry their own licenses from Ascap and BMI, another rights agency, that allow play of millions of songs in those agencies’ catalogs. Of course, the issue is complicated when the song use at an event is broadcast on TV and shared on social media. The protest letter from Steven Tyler’s lawyer to the Trump campaign even cited the Lanham Act, a federal law covering trademark and false advertising, claiming the song could be seen as a false endorsement. However, lawyers and copyright experts interviewed cited the difficulties of proving people actually thought of the music as an endorsement. In any case, campaigns will want to brush up on the legal nuances of music use. A starting point can be the Recording Industry Association of America's guidelines on copyright issues in music for political campaigns. With expanding media channels, legal confusion and polarized politics, campaigns don't want to risk having a lawsuit call the final tune. See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/us/politics/in-choreographed-campaigns-candidates-stumble-over-choice-of-music.html?_r=0

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

'Virtual Reality' Was One Loser in Democrat Debate

Virtual reality was on stage along with the candidates during the recent Democratic presidential debate as part of a CNN experiment with virtual reality (VR) startup partner Next VR. Anyone with a Samsung Gear VR headset (powered by a Samsung phone) was supposed to have an "immersive" experience of the debate, able to choose their own 180-degree views free of TV editing and in real time via live streaming. Samsung and HTC are both set to release VR devices for the holidays, and Sony and Facebook are planning their own devices for 2016, when Jupiter Research projects sales of 3 million headsets. But politicians worried about adapting presentation for a game-changing media can probably relax for this election cycle. Per a report to CNET by Max Taves, VR is "not ready for its close-up." While Taves' VR experience of the debate gave him the promised 180-degree views, the wide angles came at the expense of close-ups, he noted. So though TV viewers saw candidate and moderator faces and reactions clearly, Taves saw only distant blurs while wearing a heavy headset and holding an overheating phone to his face. NextVR co-founder D.J. Roller argued that the VR debut was still a forward step for a technology in development and promised,"That's as bad as it's going to get." But not good enough to be a political factor for current campaigns, we would guess. For the article, see http://www.cnet.com/news/not-ready-for-its-close-up-virtual-reality-makes-presidential-debate-virtually-unwatchable/

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Movie Theater Pre-Show Ad Firm Nixes Political Ads

To avoid expected political ad "negativity" in the 2016 election cycle, National CineMedia, whose FirstLook pre-show ad program plays in 1,600 movie theaters and reaches 700 million moviegoers annually, has decided to refuse all political advertising, reported a recent AdWeek magazine story. NCM did show some political ads during the 2012 election cycle, choosing only ads it judged to be positive or neutral. This time it expects a "sea of negative ads" and will make its theaters "politics-free zones," reports AdWeek. For national and local campaigns, NCM's decision removes access to a national reach that translates into a Nielsen rating above 7.0 among the desirable 18- to 49-year-old demographic, with no way for viewers to skip ads, notes the story. And for NCM, it means forgoing a slice of an estimated $4 billion in TV political ad spending. Cliff Marks, NCM president of sales and marketing, explained the decision to AdWeek: "We think brands are going to get really sick of having their image and their brand projected next to these negative ads. How is anybody going to remember your brand and message?" Marks said the company hopes appreciative brand advertising will compensate for any potential loss from missing political ads, but the decision is based on "doing the right thing." Read the full story at http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/why-national-cinemedia-saying-no-all-political-advertising-167570

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tips on Online Fundraising for Political Rookies

For rookie political campaigns, online fundraising can be daunting, appearing to require digital expertise in everything from website building to #cashtags and online video. But even those "starting from scratch" can succeed reassures a recent Campaigns & Elections magazine article by Laura Packard, partner in the Democratic digital strategy firm PowerThru Consulting. Packard ironically begins by warning neophyte fundraisers against rushing into the arms of an expensive digital consultant, especially one who offers to raise big bucks without a proven donor list. Instead, she suggests less costly basic steps to an online fundraising base. Start by being realistic about online fundraising goals, she advises. Direct mail, phone campaigns and big-donor meetings will bring in the bulk of donations; a digital effort is a valuable tool but a supplemental one. And while social media generates lots of buzz, the workhorse of online fundraising is still e-mail. So, Step No. 2 is to find a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to handle your e-mail deployment and response, ranging from small-file options like Constant Contact to NGP VAN used by most Democratic campaigns. Bottom line: Don't use a personal e-mail account that not only appears unprofessional but lacks good deliverability and response tracking. Third, build a decent website with a prominent e-mail sign-up and a way for potential donors to give via credit card. Website-building doesn't have to be expensive either; domain registration sites offer cheap/free tools to create web pages that are good enough for start-up. Finally, and most important, build that e-mail list; the bigger the list, the more money you can raise! For her suggestions on CRM options and list-building, go to http://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/2544/starting-from-scratch-here-s-how-to-hit-your-online-fundraising-goal

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DC Insider: Engagement Drives Lobbying Success

Smaller businesses, interest groups and causes often despair that they can't afford the cost of lobbying to win political influence in Washington, or state capitals for that matter. Recently, Alex Vogel, recognized as a leading national lobbyist by the National Journal and The Hill magazines, reassured that there is a road map to political impact for smaller players. In an interview with Direct Marketing News Senior Editor Al Urbanski, Vogel, who now heads the VogelHood Research firm creating data-driven models to predict national policy decisions, declared that the most important factor for lobbying success is visibility and direct engagement on as many fronts as possible, from home events to legislators' offices. If you are a lobbying newcomer who wants to be heard in Washington, D.C., start with an existing trade association or advocacy group to be educated about issues and political players, and to get plugged into an advocacy structure. The next step is to engage appropriate decision-makers--and to not be disheartened by their unavailability. Meeting with staffers, such as a chief of staff or legislative director, has real value because these are the folks who help prioritize, analyze and craft policy positions for busy elected officials, Vogel stresses. Be assured that the biggest barrier to advocacy success is not a lack of money or professional lobbyists but rather a lack of engagement, he insists. To achieve engagement, use a cohesive, organized and continuous effort to blanket decision-makers at all levels. That engagement will be most cost-effective with a strategy of early and often, not waiting until an issue reaches a critical stage. Vogel cites the example of Microsoft, which ignored Washington politics until faced with an antitrust suit--and ended up spending 10 to 20 times more playing political catch-up. For the whole interview, read http://www.dmnews.com/dc-direct/its-never-too-late-to-lobby-says-dc-insider-alex-vogel/article/441293/

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TV Political Dollars: 75% Misses the Mark, Per Study

Targeted Victory, the GOP-focused digital media firm, teamed with online giant Google to produce the recently released "50 States of Waste" analysis, highlighting the huge amount of waste in TV broadcast spending by local political campaigns--at least campaigns by Congressional candidates. The analysis looked at the $320 million spent on Congressional races last year, on a district by district basis, and concluded that 75 cents of every broadcast dollar missed the intended voter audience and were wasted on out-of-district impressions. The analysis ranking of the top 10 most wasteful district campaigns is headed by Illinois Congressional District 10, where 93% of the $19 million spent included out-of-district viewers who couldn't vote for the candidate even if they loved the message. Next comes Arizona District 1, where 89% of the $16 million spent missed the voter target. Other states with districts in the top 10 of waste include Florida, Virginia, California, Colorado, Minnesota, Texas and Georgia. Of course, digital marketing champions Targeted Victory and Google have a motive to move campaign dollars from broadcast media to digital platforms and YouTube videos. And their analysis doesn't negate the potential value of TV ads in presidential bids and statewide races. Still, it's an interesting caution to local campaigners. And a reminder to all candidates and causes that audience targeting is now key to both broadcast and digital efforts. To take a look at your own Congressional district, go to http://fiftystatesofwaste.com/index.html?p=top10&d=1

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'Every Door Direct Mail' Is Boon to Local Campaigns

Direct mail is key to drumming up donors and supporters, yet smaller, localized campaigns and candidates can be daunted by its costs and logistics. A recent Campaign Insider post for Campaigns & Elections magazine reminds mail-phobic politicos of a direct mail option especially suited to smaller budgets and novice efforts: the U.S. Post Service-enabled Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program. EDDM offers 100% delivery to target mail routes at lower postage costs and without permits or mailing lists. Campaigns nervous about handling the prep work on their own can work with an EDDM provider, or use EDDM2go, an all-inclusive option that allows a campaign to be created and delivered digitally. Meanwhile, campaigns that do have targeted mailing lists can turn to the DirectMail2go program to upload lists and customize mail. Both the EDDM2go and DirectMail2go programs also offer pre-designed political flyer and postcard templates for staffs lacking creative expertise. The Campaign Insider post by Victoria Belknap, who heads up EDDM2go and DirectMail2go marketing and customer relations, argues that these programs are "musts" for today's down-ballot and local campaigns. With EDDM and EDDM2go, campaigners can afford to blanket mail carrier routes, prospect for support, and use mail to build their own more targeted lists of postal addresses as well as online sign-ups and e-mail addresses, she notes. She urges politicos to get a feel for EDDM's potential by registering for a free EDDM account to access carrier route selection and mailer customization tools prior to committing. For Belknap's full post, go to http://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/2527/political-marketing-musts-for-moving-voters-in-the-right-direction-increasing-your-campaign-s-roi

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Small-Dollar Donors Boost Long-Shot Candidates

The well-known Clinton and Bush political names may resonate with big donors, but a sea of small-dollar donors are flooding the coffers of some long-shot candidates, according to a recent U.S. News and World Report story. Small-dollar donors account for 45% of the $1.7 million raised by Republican hopeful Carly Fiorina's campaign, 60% of the $13.6 million raised by Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders, and 80% of the $10.6 million backing Republican outsider Ben Carson. Contrast that with long-shot candidates who should be able to cash in on experience in public office and existing donor networks, such as Republicans Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who have raised just $600,000 each. What is the formula that has won Fiorina, Sanders and Carson so many small-donor fans? Political experts cite the fed-up-with-politics-as-usual factor, the feel-good of donating to someone whose policies you support and whose persona you relate to, and a basic hope that small donations can add up to help with political success. But that last hope is apt to be disappointed, especially for backers of Fiorina and Carson, if history is any guide. The last time someone who had never held public office won the presidency was Dwight Eisenhower, political analysts note, and he had victory as a World War II general on his resume. For the full article: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/10/small-dollar-donor-mindset-helps-long-shot-candidates-cash-in

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Candidates' Back-to-School Swag Woos Youth Vote

Hillary Clinton, Rand Paul, Donald Trump and other presidential hopefuls are hoping to lure young voters with branded back-to-school gear, reports Advertising Age. Hillary Clinton's back-to-school collection includes a "She's Got Your Back(pack)" knapsack, a cell phone case and a "college pack" with t-shirt, plastic cups, buttons, stickers and other items. Hi8llalry also offers a college "party pack" that includes a bottle opener keychain and fake gold tattoos. Meanwhile, Rand Paul's campaign store is pushing anti-Hillary items (like an erased e-mail server called "Hillary's Hard Drive") as well as a bag toss game, NSA spy blocker, and t-shirts designed by contest winners, including one with Paul's face labeled "Liberty Bro." Not to be left behind, Donald Trump offers a branded pack of 16-oz. red cups for campus beer bashes, pom poms, drink coozies and megaphones. Will it work to plaster their names and faces all over college campuses and win the hearts of young voters? Time will tell. For more, see http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/hillary-clinton-pushes-back-school-collection-college-students/300010/

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Clinton's Fundraising Mail Is Seeking Response

Direct mail is still one of the most powerful fundraising tools in the campaign marketing kit, and it is instructive to see how major candidates are using various mail response rate drivers to gather donations for 2016 races. A recent DirectMarketingIQ video from its research director, Paul Bobnak, analyzes how Hillary Clinton's campaign kickoff mail seeks to score with supporters by touching key direct mail marketing bases. Her piece starts with a slightly oversize No. 12 envelope with the well-known Clinton name prominently displayed and a personalized teaser ("First name, this is our moment. Are you with me?"), which both engages directly and induces guilt, one of marketing's proven response triggers. Inside is a letter with quick-read short paragraphs that focus on Us versus Them arguments, a bumper sticker premium, and a reply form that leaves space for the recipient to write lines to Clinton about issues of personal concern, another direct connection with the candidate. Clinton also uses her H logo with the arrow to point the reader's attention to a four-color photo of her well-known, smiling face as she asks for response. To see a sample of the actual mail piece, go to http://www.directmarketingiq.com/item/hillary-clinton-s-campaign-kickoff-mail-follows-all-the-rules

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

'Mobile' Electorate Is 2016 Game-Changer

The growth of mobile phone ownership is a definite game-changer for 2016 election campaigns, advises a recent Politico blog post by Dylan Byers. With 64% of Americans owning a smartphone and 68% of smartphone users following breaking news events, campaigns have both unprecedented messaging opportunities and tougher challenges. How different this election will be from 2012 is clear when Byers points out that only four years ago, during the 2012 election primaries, just 35% of Americans owned a smartphone! Per a quote from Chris Lehane, Democratic strategist and Clinton White House alum: "Mobile is going to be the big thing in 2016. It is what any sophisticated campaign will be trying to figure out and then maximize in 2016--and all the campaigns from both parties will be in a race to see who can figure out the tools to best lever the power of mobile." However, mobile clearly will be a double-edged sword in 2016 politics. On the one hand, big data targeting will be even more powerful when applied to mobile ads, donations and campaign organizing. Campaigns can use mobile to deliver quick, direct, highly targeted messages and videos to voters. On the other hand, campaigns and causes also face the risk of live streaming video gaffes, uncontrolled access by "citizen reporters," and more fast and furious partisan attacks. To that point, Byers first cites remarks by former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer that mobile will create greater engagement opportunities with millennials. He then quotes Henry Blodget, editor and CEO of Business Insider, as he warns: "Gaffes will blow up even faster. Partisan rooting will be even quicker and more intense. Anonymous trolls will swarm Twitter and brand any news story that is not highly flattering to their team as 'bias.'" For good or ill, political observers agreed, mobile has fundamentally changed 2016 political strategy. See the complete post: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2015/04/the-mobile-election-how-smartphones-will-change-the-204855.html

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Made-for-Digital Content Courts Young Voters

In their efforts to corral younger, millennial voters, 2016 election campaigns are investing in made-for-digital content, with a focus on social media and mobile, at record rates, according to a recent CNBC.com article. Reuters estimates that candidates will spend $1 billion on digital media advertising, close to four times the amount spent in 2012, CNBC reports. Almost six months before the primary elections, 80% of declared presidential hopefuls have created made-for-digital YouTube videos, and eight candidates have used live streaming for their candidacy announcements. Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders even worked with a virtual reality production company to film a fundraising speech so viewers could have a 3-D, 360-degree experience. Candidates clearly want to tap into the 18- to 36-year-old crowd that, per the Crowdtap marketing platform, spends 17.8 hours a day consuming media content, especially through social sites. It is also a voter group that is so mobile-phone-addicted that YouTube on mobile now reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any single cable network. When it comes to content delivery, Facebook is aggressively courting politicians with updated ad products that allow matching of voter files with Facebook profile data, and Snapchat is curating live candidate events and offering candidates their own Snapchat channels. However, in embracing made-for-digital video, candidates are taking a new approach from the slick TV-style productions of the past. Campaigns are trying to connect to a new generation of voters with raw, live and hopefully viral content (Sen. Ted Cruz frying bacon on the barrel of a gun). A quote from Sen. Rand Paul's chief digital strategist, Vincent Harris, sums up: "2016 is potentially the first cycle that, by Election Day, voters will be consuming more content from the Internet than on television. This is especially true for first-time voters, younger voters and college voters..." For more, read http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/05/how-pols-are-targeting-the-youth-vote-go-360-and-snapchat-like-mad.html

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Campaigns Seek Edge With Data-Driven TV Buys

Data-driven programmatic TV buying will dominate the 2016 political races as never before, suggests a recent Adweek article. With a projected $4.4 billion in TV ad spending for all 2016 elections (compared with $3.8 billion in 2012) and a crowded primary field of 17 Republican candidates, presidential hopefuls are already vying to optimize TV ad targeting. Adweek notes the advent of Deep Root Analytics, a media analytics company formed in response to the Republicans' 2012 presidential loss, as one of a handful of media analytics companies coming to the aid of presidential contenders, including Jeb Bush. Deep Root Analytics partners with data-blending and advanced-analytics company Alteryx to merge voter file information, set-top box data and commercial data to optimize audience targeting and TV ad-space buying. "Depending upon where the campaign is running, there could be anywhere from eight to 10 different data sources that we need to match against those voter files in order to better enhance that targeting and be able to create custom ratings about where you should be placing your buy," Brent McGoldrick, CEO of Deep Root Analytics, tells Adweek. With overlapping presidential and Senate races in key states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, traditional TV ad space is going to be clogged, and candidates will need help finding the best alternative space, notes David Seawright, Deep Root's director of analytics and product innovation. "The campaigns that have the technology behind them to target and say, 'Here are other places we can go where our opponents are or that aren't being purchased or that are cheaper,' will be a great strategic advantage," Seawright tells Adweek. For the complete article, read http://www.adweek.com/news/television/how-data-and-programmatic-tv-will-dominate-2016-presidential-campaign-166191

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

In Targeted Donor Race, E-mail Still Beats Social

With political campaigns and causes expected to spend up to $1 billion on digital efforts for the 2016 races, npr.org's James Doubek recently discussed the impact on the political marketing landscape. Thanks to social networks, campaigns are now able to enhance static data--voter lists and consumer behavior--with personal "engagement" data. To explain the advantage, Doubek quotes Will Conway, lead organizer at NationalBuilder, a political digital platform provider: "If this person subscribes to Field & Stream and he drives a Ford F-150, there's a high percentage chance that he's a veteran. Well, if in his Twitter bio he says he's a veteran, you know he's a veteran." So it's no wonder 2016 campaigns are spending on hyper-targeted Facebook and Twitter promotion (plus Snapchat, YouTube and more) to influence voters. But when it comes to raising money, e-mail is still the "king." "Nothing comes close" to an e-mail list, Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory, a Republican digital campaign firm, explains to Doubek, adding, "Our campaigns will do 70%-plus of their fundraising through e-mail." Back in 2012, Obama gathered 90% of his online donations from e-mails. And this time around, the e-mail list targeting is likely to be more refined and efficient. For example, Hillary Clinton's team has a 5 million-person e-mail list, but the average e-mail blast only goes to 780,000, because e-mail messages are tailored by factors such as interests and likelihood of donating. Read the complete news story: http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/28/426022093/as-political-campaigns-go-digital-and-social-email-is-still-king

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TV Political Ads Head Toward Record 2016 Spend

Campaigns and causes planning to include TV ads in their election-cycle budgets can expect especially stiff, expensive competition for the airwaves: Political ads on television are forecast to increase by 16% and reach a record $4.4 billion in spending for the 2016 presidential race, reports The Washington Post, citing the latest Kantar Media research. Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has already reserved $8 million in TV ads that could begin as early as November, according to The Post story. There are several reasons that TV ad space is in such demand, despite the growth in digital politicking and social platforms, and the decline in traditional television viewing. For one thing, the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision has opened the way for unlimited spending by corporations, unions and outside groups, and primary and battleground states are seeing the impact on TV ad spending, analysts tell The Washington Post. Also, while TV viewing by 18- to 34-year-olds is down, the most reliable, older voters still turn to television for news and entertainment, according to research. As a result of the rush to TV, some primary state TV stations are rejecting ad reservations until closer to the primaries to maximize pricing, according to political analysts interviewed. Read the complete article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2015/07/20/why-political-ads-are-going-to-reach-a-record-in-2016/

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For Media Clout, Rand Twitter Ads Target Reporters

Twitter may not be the political heavyweight in social media, with 300 million users compared to Facebook's 1.4 billion, but Republican Sen. Rand Paul, one of the crowd of GOP 2016 presidential hopefuls, is hoping to enlarge his media footprint with the Twitter ad platform. How? He's directly targeting messages to certain journalists, using a list "uploaded into Twitter's ad platform of journalists," according to a story in The Hill, an influential Washington-based political website. Reporter David McCabe quotes Paul's Chief Digital Strategist Vincent Harris: "We have even created lists of journalists in early primary states, working with the communications team. And it's a really good cheap, effective, targeted way to get a piece of content out there in front of people that you want to see it--journalists who are going to help with their megaphone push a piece of content out further." Rand Paul is following in the footsteps of President Obama's reelection campaign in this respect; Obama digital strategists also used Twitter to try to influence political junkies and journalists. For more, read http://thehill.com/policy/technology/247839-rand-pauls-campaign-directly-targets-reporters-with-ads-on-twitter

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Facebook Emerging As 2016 Digital Ad Heavyweight

Facebook is being declared "the single most important tool of the digital campaign" in 2016 by a recent National Journal magazine article. The National Journal reports that 2016 presidential contenders as disparate as Hillary Clinton and Ben Carson, Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders are already investing in the social network. And the reasons for Facebook's expanded clout, beyond its 190 million American users, are new features unveiled since the 2012 presidential campaign, including more customized and sophisticated splicing of the American electorate and the ability to serve video to those thinly targeted sets of people. That means "the emotional impact of television delivered at an almost atomized, individual level," as the article points out. Facebook not only has a wealth of information about its members--identity, age, gender, location, passions--its new partnerships with big data firms, like Acxiom, allow it to layer on behavioral information, such as shopping habits. Political operatives are already modeling the universes of likely Iowa caucus-goers and potential New Hampshire primary voters and uploading those models into Facebook to match them with Facebook profiles of actual voters in those states, per the article. "We are guaranteeing you will reach the right person at the right time and eliminate the waste that you might find in e-mail marketing, certainly in TV advertising," Eric Laurence, who is in charge of political advertising on Facebook told the National Journal. Cost factors are definitely driving Facebook interest. Vincent Harris, Paul's chief digital strategist, is quoted: "It's so cheap. I am getting Facebook video views for one cent a view—one cent a view! ... It's a fundraising tool, it's a persuasion tool, and it's a [get-out-the-vote] tool. It's a way to organize, too." And there's an attractive ROI potential, too. Facebook likes to point out that the 2013 campaign of Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor recovered 58% of its Facebook acquisition costs by linking new e-mail subscribers to online contribution forms. For more, read http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/facebook-the-vote-20150612

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Brain Science Finds Mail Bests Digital Marketing

The latest brain science explains why political campaigns will continue to rely on direct mail to win donors and voters, even as digital and social political marketing grab headlines. In fact, direct mail beats or ties digital advertising in almost all the ways political marketers seek to woo support, per a recent Temple University neuromarketing study sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General's office. As reported by Direct Marketing News, the study, which showed a mix of 40 e-mail ads and postcards to laboratory subjects, found that a digital approach bested snail mail in only one area: grabbing attention. However, postcards outperformed e-mail in five other areas: holding engagement longer, generating a greater emotional reaction, generating speedier recall, and creating subconscious desire and perceived value. And the two methods tied in three categories: engagement in terms of the amount of information absorbed, memory accuracy, and willingness to spend. The Office of Inspector General, with 31% of USPS revenues tied to advertising mail, clearly is hoping the findings will inspire commercial marketers to make greater use of mail's power. But the findings apply to political marketers as well. Among the OIG suggestions are increased marketer testing of mail creative, sequencing, and digital print technology, such as augmented reality and QR codes. For more details, read http://www.dmnews.com/postal/direct-mail-has-a-greater-effect-on-purchase-than-digital-ads/article/423292/

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Marketing Pro to 2016 Hopefuls: Sell Pithy Specifics

Political campaigns spend big dollars on voter-targeted direct and digital marketing campaigns, so the opinions of direct marketing pros, like well-known and outspoken consultant and author Denny Hatch, are worth noting. Hatch recently wrote an article for Target Marketing magazine, advising the crowded field of 2016 presidential candidates on how they can ease the decision-making nightmare for voters. First, he urges them to avoid BOMFOG, a term gleaned from a former candidate-client's own speech content description: Brotherhood of Man Under the Fatherhood of God. Hatch cites BOMFOG as an illustration of the general political tendency to "bloviate, equivocate, pontificate, obviate and flat-out lie" while avoiding specifics. But when you have over 20 primary candidates, Republican and Democrat, that kind of tactic will leave voters either grabbing at televised one-liners and gaffes, or confused and turned-off. Instead, Hatch suggests that, as in the business world, each candidate should create a pithy, personal resume for voters. That political resume would consist of a CV (99 words maximum about family, net worth, education and career); a Preamble about basic philosophy of governance (249 words maximum); and a series of Issue Stances (99 words each). Hatch provides his own examples of issue opinions, which readers won't necessarily accept, but the idea is to offer a manifesto that is specific, punchy and printed (no BOMFOG evaporating at the end of the speech or media sound bite). Issues include hot topics such as energy, foreign policy, climate change, health care, immigration, jobs, national security, taxes, and more. Hatch taps into marketing basics with his ideas. "Specifics sell. Generalities do not," he notes, quoting marketing freelancer Andrew J. Byrne. By creating a punchy resume, each candidate can focus on his or her USP (Unique Selling Proposition), Hatch suggests. See: http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/selling-president-2016-bomfog/

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why the Fad for One-Letter Logos in 2016 Race?

Barack Obama rode his hip, single-letter "O" logo into the White House, and some 2016 presidential hopefuls may hope that emulating the one-letter logo idea will lead to the same political brand success. For example, as a recent Washington Post newspaper story reports, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's campaign committee is playing with a "J" logo, while Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has launched an active, rightward-pointing "H," former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is using "O'M" instead of spelling his name out on signs, and Republican Rick Perry has unveiled a "P" logo. Why the popularity of single-letter logos? Blame the rise of digital politicking, suggests the Post. Single letters are optimized for smartphones, whether for a call-to-action button or a social media avatar. Single letters just fit better into the square icons of social media compared with long names. It's no accident that Facebook's logo is a lowercase "f," Pinterest uses a "P," and Tumblr has a lowercase "t." But the fad for bold letter logos also may reflect the pressure to stand out in a crowded field of presidential hopefuls, adds the Post story. A strong campaign logo, like a strong corporate brand logo, can set a candidate apart from the competition and quickly help voters recall a candidate's message and brand attributes. For logo examples, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/06/04/the-rise-of-the-single-letter-political-logos/

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Want to Tap Millennial Politics? Go to Facebook

If they want to get on the Millennial generation's political radar, campaigns need to go to Facebook. A recent Mashable article cites the evidence of social media's grip on Millennial politics with the latest Pew Research Center study, which found that 61% of Millennials, those born between 1981 to 1996, said they get political news from Facebook at least once a week. That social media preference easily outpaced the 37% of political input from local TV, the preferred medium of Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 to 1964. In fact, Millennials and Baby Boomers are mirror opposites in terms of preferred political news sources, with Boomers getting 60% of their political news from local TV and only 39% from Facebook. The study, in which Pew surveyed 3,000 people, also found that the Millennial age cohort tends to recognize fewer news outlets, with less awareness of half of the 36 sources that Pew asked about when compared to the Boomers and Generation X group (those born between 1965 and 1980). The report also polled Millennials on how much they trust different news outlets. Among the most recognized and trusted, CNN led (trusted by 60%, distrusted by 16%, with 19% in the middle). Next in trust were the news divisions of ABC, NBC, and CBS. Lowest trust went to digital sources like BuzzFeed and conservative media like the Rush Limbaugh Show. Among the top social media players, Facebook outdistanced Twitter, with just 14% of Millennials saying they got political news via tweets. For more, read http://mashable.com/2015/06/01/millennials-facebook-politics-pew/

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Presidential Hopefuls Duel With E-mail Subject Lines

With e-mail a proven political campaign tool, and subject lines a key to open rates, the crowded field of 2016 presidential hopefuls is already providing interesting subject line lessons, notes a recent Target Marketing magazine article by Kevin Kelleher of Return Path, an e-mail marketing data solutions provider. Consider Ted Cruz's subject line "Exciting news this week!" It aims to generate interest/curiosity (what's so exciting?), urgency and even fear of missing out (this week), Kelleher points out. In contrast, Rand Paul's welcome e-mail subject line rambles on with "Thank you so much for signing up to learn about Rand Paul's campaign for the Republican nomination for President of the United States." Its 134 characters--which is almost too long for a tweet and will be cut short by e-mail inboxes and mobile screens--put it in the minority 3% of subject lines over 100 characters, which also have a lower open rate average of just 9%, per Kelleher. Hillary Clinton takes the opposite tack with a minimalist, one-word "Welcome" e-mail subject line, which may have an eye on mobile users since those devices are constrained to just 25-30 characters. But it certainly seems to miss the more personal, inclusive inspiration added by just three more words with Marco Rubio's "Welcome to the Team." Kelleher adds that Bernie Sanders is the only one to use a question and a soft call to action with his "Are you with me?" subject line. The answer to that question for all candidates is pending, but to give your 2 cents now on the current crop of political subject lines, go to http://www.targetmarketingmag.com/article/presidential-subject-lines-can-learn-early-candidates/

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Election Spurs Sale of Valuable Voter, Donor Data

One way presidential hopefuls raise money for 2016, and pay off debts from prior campaigns, is to rent out valuable voter and donor data. And that's a boon for other candidates and causes. "A lot of folks that ran in 2012, their lists are on the market," Ryan Meerstein, senior director for Client Strategy at Targeted Victory, a Republican tech firm, recently confirmed to The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper. Targeted Victory, for example, paid $1.1 million to rent list data from Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid. GOP presidential bidder Rick Santorum has earned nearly $281,000 by renting supporter lists from his 2012 election effort, while 2012 GOP also-ran Newt Gingrich has earned $434,000 off supporter lists. The most coveted data, campaign pros told the Pittsburgh newspaper, includes the personal contact information of campaign donors. Also desirable are lists of supporters "willing to turn an online action into an offline action," such as attending a rally or posting a lawn sign, added Meerstein. Of course, national candidates are not the only source of valuable political data. On the market are voters by city, state and local campaign, members of special-interest and advocacy groups, and donors to a range of politically relevant causes, with many of those lists selectable for party affiliation. Political lists are rented via data brokers, like Beyond Voter Lists, the article notes. But we would add that a good broker will help candidates and causes avoid the problems also cited in the newspaper article, such as overuse and poor targeting, by checking usage history and making sure list data is updated and matched with client targeting. See http://www.post-gazette.com/news/nation/2015/06/01/Political-fundraising-campaigns-manage-debts-by-selling-data/stories/201506010025

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/

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reaching Ethnic Voters Demands Custom Data

Custom data is emerging as a vital tool for 2016 candidates and causes facing a dramatic shift in voter demographics, with proportions of Hispanic, Asian and African-American voters growing relative to white voters in many key states. For example, in Nevada, non-Hispanic whites will fall to 60% of the voting population in 2016 (from 65% in 2012), while Hispanics will grow to 19% (up from 16%), African-Americans will rise to 10% (from 9%), and potential Asian voters will go to 8% (from 7%), per a Washington Post evaluation of U.S. Census data. Besides Nevada, states most affected by demographic shifts include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolia, Ohio and Virginia. A recent Ad Age article interviewed Republican and Democratic strategists to highlight 2016 plans for winning ethnic political allegiance--and custom data was one of the key strategies. "I think the status quo has been somewhat subpar in terms of our ability to find minority voters, especially in areas that are more diverse," Tom Bonier, CEO of Democratic data consultancy TargetSmart, admitted to Ad Age. Since raw commercial data on race and ethnicity doesn't always provide enough accuracy for the data crunchers, TargetSmart and other political agencies are building data models internally--especially Democrats and progressives, who see winning African-American and Hispanic voters as key to 2016 victory. One of the important custom tweaks that data analysts are making is coding the appropriate language for campaign messaging. A Hispanic surname alone does not indicate whether the preferred communication language is English or Spanish, for example. For other strategic implications of ethnic voter shifts, such as increased mobile communications, see the complete article: http://adage.com/article/datadriven-marketing/politicians-custom-data-key-reaching-ethnic-vote/297912/

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Will Meerkat Be a 2016 Campaign Game-Changer?

Social media is abuzz over Meerkat, a new service that allows users to stream live video directly from their smartphones to Twitter followers. Now Twitter has come up with  Periscope, its own rival, video streaming app.  So broadcasting an event doesn't require a satellite truck and expensive satellite time anymore; a mobile phone user can do it, as easily as texting, tweeting and Instagram posting. If the 2008 presidential election "was about Facebook, and 2012 was about Twitter, 2016 is going to be about Meerkat (or something like it)," declares Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to President Obama, in a Backchannel post on medium.com. He foresees four potential impacts on 2016 political campaigns: 1) political coverage moves into the hands of Everyman, as any campaign moment at any time, such as Romney's "47%" faux pas, can be captured live and aired unfiltered for anyone to see, anywhere; 2) the line between TV and print coverage blurs further, as print reporters use Meerkat's live video to supplement their posts and tweets; 3) political engagement of millennials, who are inseparable from their mobile devices, increases as media and campaigns stream content directly to their mobile phones; and 4) the value of Twitter followers goes way up. If even 10% of Twitter users join Meerkat (or Periscope), Pfeiffer points out, that's a live video audience of almost 6 million for campaigns to reach without the filter of broadcast and cable. For the full post: https://twitter.com/medium/status/578526586674118656

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

If Tweets & Soundbites Rule, Do Speeches Matter?

When voters follow candidates and causes via media soundbites, a few lines of tweeted text or a mobile phone headline, does the old-fashioned stump speech even matter anymore? It's a question recently posed in an article in The National Journal, which noted that leading Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush didn't even give a speech at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. Bush also has been notably "uninspired" in delivering big addresses so far this year, the article points out. Yet Jeb Bush is still confident he can meet an ambitious fundraising goal of $100 million in the first three months of the year. So why bother with scripted oratory? The National Journal asked pundits what purpose rousing campaign rhetoric still serves, and the experts cited four reasons to speechify. First, campaign speeches help gain donors. Traditionally, if donors see that a candidate can galvanize a crowd, they are more likely to offer support. Second, the discipline of creating cohesive arguments with advisors and staff is crucial to the internal campaign process, helping create a harmonious platform--and team. Third, speeches let a campaign set the public narrative, as President Obama did in 2008 with his rhetoric of hope and "change we can believe in." Finally, a great speech can simply win votes. Jon Lovett, a former Obama speechwriter, summed up, "A great speech can make you remember something about what you believe, about who you are, about who you want to be. It's rare when that kind of thing happens. But it is important, and it is real." For the whole article, go to http://www.nationaljournal.com/twenty-sixteen/the-decreasing-relevance-of-the-campaign-speech-20150304

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Data Mining Seen Spurring TV Political Ad Spending

Thanks to innovations in "addressability" and data targeting, TV political ad spending in 2016 is forecast to climb to $3 billion, according to Comcast projections recently provided during "Advanced Advertising: Profiting From a Targeted Audience," an event hosted by Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News publishing. Demand for spot cable is expected to see especially strong growth because it can offer targeted inventory late in political races. About 75% of ad buys come after July 4, with most post-Labor Day, when cable set-top box data and other data insights let campaigns reach a more precise cross-section of voting viewers. However, though addressability is practical on a regional or system basis, scaling up to a wider campaign is challenging. Michael Bologna, president of MODI Media, pointed out in a Broadcasting & Cable report that once a TV ad buy requires more than 30% of the U.S. audience, or CPMs over $5, broadcast "one-to-many makes more sense" than spot cable's addressability. Read the Broadcast & Cable story at http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/bc-events/data-mining-spurs-political-ad-buying-advancedad/138701

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

In Political Races, E-mail Lists Outpace Social Buzz

E-mail beats social in political races. At least that's the takeaway from The Washington Post political blog, The Fix, which recently asked veteran digital campaigners for advice on 2016 strategy. The experts' advice can be summed up by Laura Olin, who previously was the outbound director of social media for Obama's reelection and now is a principal at Precision Strategies: "E-mail is still the largest driver of fundraising and a volunteer program. Social is a drop in the bucket compared to that." Nick Schaper, former director of digital media for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and now the president and CEO of Engage, agreed that "e-mail is still the killer app." In reaching potential voters and donors, e-mail offers broadest reach (85% of American adults over the age of 18 use e-mail), rich targeting (data firms have built detailed profiles around e-mail addresses), and a way to directly re-contact the best prospects for more support and dollars. However, the digital marketing pros also urged campaigns to embrace social media. A basic social presence today is key to conveying legitimacy as well as organizing. "Social is obviously the best place to take advantage of network effects, like people getting their friends to do stuff for us," Olin pointed out. And for both e-mail or social networking, making it mobile-friendly is now essential, they all agreed. The outline of a good mobile strategy per Schaper: "Making sure that people can donate with one click. Making sure they can encourage their friends to do the same. Making sure that they're storing credit cards when appropriate. Making it easy for folks to give when they want to give, because that moment's going to pass." For the whole article, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/13/in-politics-a-great-e-mail-list-still-trumps-a-buzzy-social-media-account-and-its-not-close/

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Despite Digital Growth, Mail Still Leads Budgets

Don't let stories about online and social media politicking distract your campaign planning from the proven direct marketing leader: direct mail. Note that direct mail will top overall marketing budgets this year despite all the chatter about e-mail and digital content, predicts the Winterberry Group. At a forecast $45.7 billion spend for 2015, direct mail is showing only a 1% growth, but that still puts mail well ahead of an expected e-mail spend of just $2.3 billion, as well search dollars of $26.9 (including desktop and mobile). Although targeted digital display, including desktop and mobile promotions, has the strongest predicted growth (21.1%), it still comes in well behind mail at $28.3 billion in projected spending. Key factors driving strong direct-mail budget plans include lack of a postal rate increase in early 2015, rising mail volumes, strong acquisition mail investment to offset declining retention mailings, and a rise in digital-to-offline retargeting, according to the Winterberry study. Direct mail may also benefit from its proven ability in data-driven targeting--the Holy Grail of today's political marketing. Across channels, Winterberry predicts that 2015 marketers will invest more in data-driven promotion, with the top reason (from 52.7% surveyed) cited as the demand for more relevant, customer-centric (read donor-centric and voter-centric) communication. For an infographic summarizing results, check out the Direct Marketing News magazine article at http://www.dmnews.com/marketing-spending-in-2015-infographic/article/400487/

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Digital Tool Aids Low-Dollar Campaigns on Right

For just $500, a local, small-budget campaign can now use targeted digital marketing, once a campaign weapon wielded only by big-budget political rivals. Targeted Victory, the digital political marketing firm that recently helped Greg Abbott become the new Texas governor, has joined with Facebook Ads to create the Targeted Engagement platform, and is making it available to any campaign with $500 and a right-leaning agenda, reports Direct Marketing News. The new platform combines internal and external data on likely Republican voters and donors, and then uses modeling to optimize media mixes. The minimum cost is $500, although campaigns will probably need to spend more like $10,000 to really leverage the power of the platform, per Targeted Victory co-founder Michael Beach. Beach explained to DM News, "With a lot of our senatorial candidates last year, we found that we could reach 75% of target audiences on Facebook. This is a powerful tool, because it allows you to compete with smaller resources. On TV, they're missing about 30% of possible voters." The Targeted Engagement SaaS platform targets across desktop, mobile and TV, while its Facebook upgrade adds the ability to post images, links and videos with no minimum buy. See the DM News report at http://www.dmnews.com/getting-elected-just-got-cheaper/article/399071/

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Can Campaigns Tap Instagram's Growing Clout?

Social media's political strategy has been so dominated by Facebook and Twitter that campaign marketers may have missed the swift rise of another social platform: Instagram. Thanks to a post by Aaron Blake on The Fix blog of The Washington Post for pointing out the growing political potential of Instagram. While Facebook still corrals the most Internet users, Instagram's photo-sharing service has now surpassed Twitter in terms of total users, per the Pew Research Center's 2014 data. More significantly, Pew found that Instagram's demographics skew strongly toward younger voters (53% of 18- to 29-year old Internet users), minorities (38% of African-Americans and 34% of Latinos, compared with 21% of white Internet users) and women (more women use Instagram than men). Those are the groups that made up the supposed "Obama coalition," and both Democrats and Republicans are courting them for a 2016 win. So no one should be surprised that, in his recent State of the Union address, President Obama concluded his praise for astronaut Scott Kelly's yearlong stay in space to prep for a Mars mission by telling Kelly, "Make sure to Instagram it." Campaign marketers may want to take the hint and start planning how to reach Instagram's key voting blocs by sharing some persuasive images. For details of Pew's social media data, read http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/02/04/why-the-two-parties-need-to-figure-out-instagram-now/

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Will Voters 'Like' New Facebook Political Videos?

Political campaigns expanded use of video ads on Facebook and other social platforms in 2014. But if campaigns like Facebook video, they'll have to make changes to get voters to "like" them back in 2016, according to a recent article by Derek Willis for The Upshot website of The New York Times. Previously, many political videos were just re-purposed TV ads, either run on the candidate's Facebook page or as a "pre-roll" clip before another YouTube video that users actually wanted to watch. For political video ads to really leverage social media impact, they will need to be in the "feed" as ads, and grabbing attention in just a few seconds. That means 2016 campaign videos will have to be designed specifically for the Internet rather than TV, digital ad consultants predict. Plus, while social media has a great potential audience, data shows that politically active Facebook users rarely cross party lines and mainly share with like-minded followers. So tapping the wider reach of a social network like Facebook also will mean producing more distinct online videos customized to specific audiences. "Campaigns will need to produce vast quantities of customized messaging," Connor Walsh, a Republican digital consultant, told Willis. "And with a cap on the frequency a user is shown the same ad, campaigns cannot rely on repetition to drive home their message." Instead of repetition, video content will be challenged to use a few seconds of title and image for an immediate hook that inspires engagement and sharing. Yet while grabbing viewer attention, social video content will have to straddle the line between serious policy and the over-the-top "red meat" that can backfire, especially outside the base, warn digital media experts. Clearly, winning over social networks with political videos will not be an easy task. For the whole article, read http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/upshot/coming-to-your-facebook-feed-more-political-videos.html

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Kochs' $889M 2016 Budget Overshadows Parties

The political network overseen by conservative billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on 2016 campaigns in "an unparalleled effort by coordinated outside groups to shape a presidential election that is already on track to be the most expensive in history," according to The New York TimesThe $889 million spending goal to influence both presidential and congressional races in 2016 was revealed at the Kochs’ annual winter donor retreat near Palm Springs, Calif. Five politicos, considered to be conservative "rising stars" by the Kochs and their roughly 300 donors, also received coveted invitations to the event, and four attended: Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas. To understand the growing power of Koch money, note that the Kochs' network--which includes groups such as Freedom Partners, Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America--spent a little under $400 million in the 2012 presidential election, compared with the $657 million spent by the Republican National Committee and its two congressional campaign committees. The $889 million spending goal for 2016 will put the Kochs' network on track to spend nearly as much as the campaigns of each party’s presidential nominee and will put special fundraising pressure on Democrats. "It’s no wonder the candidates show up when the Koch brothers call," summed up David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama, in The New York Times piece. "That’s exponentially more money than any party organization will spend. In many ways, they have superseded the party." For the complete story, see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/kochs-plan-to-spend-900-million-on-2016-campaign.html?_r=0

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Learning From 2014 Political Direct Mail Successes

Direct mail proved its value as a fundraising and political engagement tool in many successful midterm bids, and the tactical takeaways can help campaigns hone mailings for the next political cycle. Paul Bobnak, archivist for Who's Mailing What! and research director for DirectMarketingIQ.com, recently winnowed through the mass of political mail from 2014 races and pulled out three tips for success. First, go big to make a big splash, he advises, citing as one example the 8.5-by-11-inch booklet mailed out by Democrat Tom Wolf in his successful bid to oust incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Second, use color, he urges, showing how outer envelopes with compelling four-color images and bold teaser copy stand out from the crowd of dull No. 10 mailers. Third, add door-to-door campaign tools to mailings to help put your donors and supporters on your street team. Bobnak highlights how a Democratic National Committee mailer not only included a sheet of stickers and two door hangers but also an outer envelope that folded out into a poster, a tactic that has proved effective for nonprofit donor drives. To see Bobnak's video presentation and examples, go to http://www.directmarketingiq.com/item/2014-political-direct-mail-tips

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hillary May Tap Texas Ad Agency Alums for 2016

According to a recent Advertising Age report, Wendy Clark, a Coca-Cola marketing executive and alumnus of Austin-based ad agency GSD&M, may join her mentor at GSD&M, co-founder and Clinton confidant Roy Spence, on the presumptive Hillary Clinton presidential campaign team. Clark shares Spence's philosophy of "purpose-driven" marketing, and there is speculation that this is the kind of branding strategy that could guide Clinton's campaign messaging. Clark, who is on leave from Coke to pursue a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" per an internal memo, and Spence, whom Hillary Clinton counted among "the best friends I ever had" in her 2003 autobiography, were both put on the list of potential Clinton team "message makers" by a recent New York Times blog post. Spence, who is known for the "Don't Mess With Texas" anti-litter campaign and who founded The Purpose Institute in 2008 to promote his branding philosophy, urges "purpose-driven" marketing to "play to your strength in the purpose of serving the greater good." Clark's implementation of that concept has stressed integrating owned, earned, shared and paid media, with social media at the center. Barbara O'Connor, emeritus professor of communications and director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento, summed up for Advertising Age: "I think [Wendy Clark's] skill set is one that [Ms. Clinton] certainly would like to have, because Wendy is very well known and is excellent at marketing to Middle America. And that's a group that whoever is running for president needs to focus on turning out." For the full story, go to http://adage.com/article/news/hillary-adland-message-makers/296647/

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winning Midterm Ads Told Voters 'I'm Just Like You'

Political ads, whether they go for positive vibe or negative attack, succeed by connecting candidates to the voters. A key way to do that is to convey the message that a candidate is "just like you," proposes an analysis of 2014 midterm campaign ads by Lynn Vavreck, a UCLA political science professor, writing in The New York Times' The Upshot section. Vavreck cites two contrasting "just like you" approaches that won. Joni Ernst garnered national attention for her Iowa Senate race with her now-famous hog-castration ad, promising to go to Washington to "make 'em squeal," but the heart of her campaign was to connect to Iowa voters with "just like you" authenticity, raising hogs on a farm and making biscuits at Hardee's restaurant. And the last two weeks of her successful Senate bid produced over 80% promotional and positive ads, focusing on government spending, budget and taxes. In contrast, Pat Roberts, the incumbent Republican senator in Kansas, kept his seat by producing 80% of ads that were negative attacks on President Obama and his policies--especially in the last two weeks of his campaign. It wasn't because his opponent was an Obama Democrat; his opponent ran as an independent. But by using attack ads, Roberts tapped into his electorate's disapproval and disappointment with Obama to show voters he was "just like you," Vavreck notes. Politicos gearing up for 2016 certainly should consider the power of "just like you" in planning campaigns. For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/upshot/midterm-political-ads-that-worked-and-why.html?_r=0