Thursday, September 22, 2016

Google Offers New Election Search Trends Hub

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Targeted Digital, TV Ads Mark Political Milestones

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 You can see that the first meetings of Massachusetts town halls in 1633 have been replaced by Facebook town halls with national reach.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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How Presidential Hopefuls Score on Social Media

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Political Digital: Why Google, Facebook, Twitter Rule

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

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Programmatic Ads Need Emotional Power to Win

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Digital, Radio Push Up Political Ad Spend Prediction

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Electorate Most Diverse in History

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

AOL E-Mails Are Surprise Political Gold Mine

Political fundraisers are mining donor gold from veins of AOL e-mail addresses, reveals a recent USA Today report. A January study by digital marketing firm Fluent found that while only 4% of subscribers to political e-mail lists had addresses and 48% had Gmail accounts, the AOL users accounted for 22% of all donations during the November-December 2015 study period. In contrast, Gmail users contributed just 13% of total donation dollars. The generosity of AOL folks makes them stand out from the e-mail crowd: The average AOL user donation was $159, while Gmail users gave an average of $31. Why? Differences in average age translate into differences in average giving. AOL e-mail addresses tend to belong to older donors, and "80% of all donations from e-mail are coming from people 50 or older," explained Fluent CMO Jordan Cohen. These older AOL donors should be especially valuable to Conservative causes since the average Republican donor online is 55-plus, according to Republican digital strategy firm Harris Media. However, the rate of return on e-mail for political campaigns is high regardless of address, age or party affiliation, added Cohen, pointing out that President Obama's e-mail list in the last campaign amounted to about 40 million people, and 4.5 million of those donated, which is "a huge response rate." For more:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

How Clinton Leads Trump in the Data Game

Targeted voter data and analytics are key to winning for political campaigns and causes today. So, who has the better data armory among the warring presidential hopefuls? Advertising Age magazine recently addressed the issue by comparing Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican primary leader Donald Trump in terms of operations, spending and expert support. Political analysts give the Democrats an edge operationally, coming out of the two data-centric Obama campaigns with a sophisticated data-gathering operation that can target voters in swing states. In terms of dollars spent, the Federal Election Commission shows the Clinton campaign pays about $10,000 a month to a top data staffer, co-founder of data firm BlueLabs, and about the same amount combined per month for two additional staffers, plus Clinton has spent around $82,000 with NGP VAN, a Democratic voter data firm, since last October. In contrast, Trump waited until January to hire two "low-profile" former Republican National Committee data strategists, per Politico reporting. But he has brought data consultants on board, too, spending $240,000 with the political data firm L2 and about $18,000 with NationBuilder, a voter file management platform. The candidates will also joust with media buys based on data analytics, and Clinton has outspent Trump for data-enhanced media agency buys so far, shelling out $9.6 million to TV firm GMMB and $745,000 to digital agency Bully Pulpit in February. Of course, spending is not the only measure of strength in the data arena. Staff expertise and experience counts, and Clinton may have the advantage there, opined political analysts. While Clinton is sure to gather former Obama data veterans and agencies if she wins nomination, Trump may struggle to attract similar data expertise from the Republican side given the #NeverTrump movement. For more:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

USPS Debuts Site Promoting Political Direct Mail

The U.S. Postal Service has jumped into the election frenzy with a new website,, to provide political campaigns with guidance on how to best use direct mail for fundraising and voter impact. The site is part of a broader effort by the USPS to raise awareness of mail during this year’s elections, along with partnerships with industry trade groups and publications. The site touts direct mail effectiveness, for example citing USPS research showing 79% of households either read or scan the advertising mail they receive. More significantly, it alerts political mailers to USPS promotions for digitally advanced mail, such as use of mobile-scanned augmented reality (AR) apps, QR codes and near field communication (NFC), as well as personalized urls (PURLs). The site also promotes use of sensory/dimensional design to win mailbox attention,  the postal savings of its Every Door Direct Mail program for geographic targeting, and its Address Quality Analysis (AQA) to improve deliverability. Check out the website at

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Sanders Is Surprise Leader in Ad Agency Spending

Presidential hopefuls are spending millions on TV ads, direct mail, digital ads, social media and data analytics. But the agency big spender may surprise you: Old Towne Media is the agency that has scored the most campaign cash--thanks to the Democrat's anti-establishment candidate Bernie Sanders. In fact, according to a mid-February analysis by Advertising Age magazine, the Sanders campaign has been more generous with agencies than his rivals, spending $10.6 million with Olde Towne Media, an agency focused on TV ads; $5.6 million with Revolution Messaging, a digital consulting and advertising agency; and $2.9 million with Tigereye Promotions for campaign paraphernalia and merchandising. Sanders' agency spending beat rival Hillary Clinton's outlay; her top three agency investments have been $8.7 million with TV-focused media agency GMMB, $1.8 million to Bully Pulpit Interactive for digital, and $1.05 million for direct marketing with Chapman Cubine Adams & Hussey. Bernie also whips GOP party outsider Ted Cruz's agency investment. Cruz sent $3.2 million to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics and digital media firm; $2 million to Campaign Solutions, a digital agency; and $1.9 million to The Lukens Co., a direct marketing firm. Marco Rubio, the latest GOP establishment hope, has only one agency scoring over a million dollars: Smart Media Group, a media agency, scooped up $8.6 million from the Rubio campaign. However, the Ad Age story isn't including spending by PACs, target of Sanders' ire. Plus, GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who has coasted on "earned media" coverage and finally aired a TV ad in January, isn't included in the article. Still, looking at primary vote forecasts, it's a good bet many of these agencies will soon lose their political gravy train. For more on candidates' agency spending, read

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Political Direct Mail 'Tricks' Don't Need to Get Dirty

Political direct mail can use proven "tricks" to grab attention of donors and voters--and they don't have to be the dirty variety that generate more bad press and offense than dollars and support. A recent Target Marketing magazine article by Paul Bobnak, director of Who's Mailing What! direct mail monitoring, highlighted some recent political mail successes--and faux pas--to help campaigns with winning creative. First, Bobnak cites an example of what not to do: a recent matching gift appeal mailer from GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz. The Cruz team used a No. 10 envelope similar to official Senate mail to constituents, an address window showing a security-like "check," and an envelope promise of "check enclosed." It's a common financial offer trick and not illegal (once opened, the recipient will see "no cash value" written on the check), but it still risks unnecessary confusion and offense in a political setting. Bobnak suggests some alternatives that can work well without the negatives of the Cruz gambit. For example, use a teaser or envelope tag line that personalizes and speaks in the candidate's authentic voice, such as "The NSA Hasn't Read This..." on Rand Paul's 2016 Senate campaign mail. Color images and oversize mailers work well to stand out in the mailbox, such as Martha McSally's congressional bid with a eye-catching four-color photo on a 6"X11" envelope, showing the combat-pilot-turned-candidate in front of an A-10 warplane. Front-end premiums create engagement for retail, charity and political campaigns, too; Bobnak cites the fundraising package from the Democratic National Committee, which adds a free door-to-door campaign kit to the standard letter, donation form and BRE, including a big sheet of stickers, a couple of door hangers, and a wafer-sealed outer envelope that folds out into a handy "Vote Democrat" poster. For visual examples, go to

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Campaigns Must Go Beyond First-Party Voter Data

Political campaigns in 2016 are challenged as never before to go beyond first-party voter data in their digital outreach, points out a recent post. Peter Pasi, vice president of political sales at the digital ad agency Collective, notes that Borrell Associates has predicted candidates will be spending $1 billion on political digital ads ahead of the 2016 election, a huge jump from the $159 million spent in 2012. A lot of those dollars will be absorbed by programmatic advertising, which replaces human ad management with programmed ad buying and placement based on targeting data and real-time bidding. That requires digging a lot deeper into the data to avoid wasting impressions, and dollars, on generic voter campaigns, Pasi argues. Why won't basic voter data do the job? Because political advertising needs to focus on a finite audience of eligible voters actually likely to go to the polls and back the candidate or cause. Remember that only half of eligible voters actually show up to vote and many of those are not persuadable, Pasi points out. Plus, if 2016 proves anything, it is that polarizing candidates can overturn the usual assumptions about voter support. Luckily, campaigns can now use targeting data that goes beyond the static modeling by age/income/ethnicity/party affiliation of the past. They can optimize ad-targeting with real-time polling results, ID calls, field work, e-mail and direct mail responses, set-top TV data, and offline purchase and interest behavior. A lot can be gleaned about voters from what they read, view, share and buy. For example, targeting new mothers might help a candidate with a strong platform on child care or child tax credits, while identifying hunters can be crucial for campaigns focused on gun control and related issues, notes Pasi. And in today's volatile races, access to real-time data is key to adjusting and optimizing messaging and targeting. For more:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Voters Unite in Interest, Differ on News Sources

This presidential election cycle has grabbed the public's attention, whether via TV or social media, in an unprecedented way. The most recent Pew Research Center survey finds that 91% of Americans have already tuned into election information--a higher level of learning about presidential candidates than at the same point in the past two presidential elections. Yet, while united in overall interest, the electorate differs widely on which media are the most helpful sources of information, with no one source gaining more than a quarter of adult favor-- so campaigns definitely can't put all their eggs in one media basket. Overall, voters rate cable TV news as the most helpful (24%), followed by social media (14%) and local TV (14%). At the bottom (1%) is candidate or campaign digital outreach via website/app/e-mail. Unsurprisingly, preferences are affected by age, education level and political party, Pew reports. Cable television is most popular with those 65 and older and Republicans, while soical media is the favorite information source of 18- to 29-year-olds. Just as important for campaign planners is the fact that the majority of voters learn about the presidential election from multiple sources ( 45% from five or more and 35% from three or four), compared with only 9% who get information from just one source. TV still tops the media mix, with 78% of Americans saying they learned about the presidential reace from at least one of the four TV-based sources (cable news, local news, national network news, late-night comedy). Another 65% list a digital platform as one of their information sources (news website, social site, issue-based site/app/e-mail or campaign group site/app/e-mail). Print newspapers are at the bottom of the information heap (cited by 36%). And before investing in a broad social media push, campaigns also should note that Facebook far outranks other sites as a political source (37% of the public). In contrast, Trump's go-to Twitter is sourced by just 9%. For more detail, read

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Don't Let Digital Ad-Blocking Hobble Your Campaign

Ad blocking by digital and mobile viewers is a growing challenge for political campaigns and causes in the 2016 election cycle, and video ads are especially vulnerable, warns a recent post. There are already 45 million monthly active ad-blocking users in the U.S., and ad-blocker usage is growing rapidly. Ad-blocking rates vary by region, from a low of 8% in Washington, D.C. to over 14% in a swing state like New Hampshire. Besides ad blocking, voters--especially millennials--are engaging in ad skipping thanks to skippable digital ads and ad-skipping DVRs. And with ad-free digital video subscriptions, more voters are able to avoid political videos. What can campaigns do? The article suggests several strategies to dodge ad blockers and maximize the viewing run of online display, mobile and video ads. Start by asking digital content providers how they handle anti-ad blocking, such as withholding content if ads are blocked or employing a tech solution to defend agaist ad blockers. Since ad blocking rates vary by site vertical and environment, take that into account in media buys--for example, ad blockers are less effective with mobile native apps than with mobile web browsers. When it comes to video ads, go for premium viewing, such as major media and broadcast sites, to combat viewer drop off due to poor ad stream quality, overall low viewability and even fraudulent impressions. Of course, personalized targeting decreases ad avoidance, and programmatic and other precise viewer targeting can help. For the full article, go to

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mobile Is Key to Targeting 2016 Minority Voters

Mobile devices will play a key role for candidates and causes wooing Hispanic and African-American voters in 2016, per a new Interactive Advertising Bureau study reported by Adweek magazine. The study found that 67% of Hispanic voters and 60% of black voters say they visit digital political sites on their smartphones. That minority mobile preference compares with 49% of voters overall who say they access political sites via mobile. And just in case campaigners discount the importance of digital communications overall, the same IAB study found that 35% of all voters said digital media will be their most important method of learning about presidential candidates, and 61% said digital combined with television will be "primary information sources" in 2016 political races. Anna Bager, senior vice president and general manager of mobile and video at IAB, concluded to Adweek: "U.S. Hispanic and African-American voters are crucial to candidates, and this research shows that mobile is the best way to reach them." For more findings from the study, see

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Political Ads Scramble for TV Time, Winning Formula

The TV ad battles in the 2016 political race are heating up, reports The New York Times, and we haven't even reached the primaries. At the same time, candidates and their super PACs are still struggling to find a formula that will translate ad dollars into votes. In 2015, candidates and their allies already spent nearly $100 million on political advertising, including $72 million in Iowa and New Hampshire alone, Kantar Media/CMAG estimated for the NYT story. Now campaigns are feverishly grabbing for TV ad space ahead of the primaries, and negative attack ads are on the rise. “We’re getting down to the firing-squad part of the campaign,” Larry McCarthy, the strategist making ads for Right to Rise, the super PAC supporting Jeb Bush, told the NYT. Yet the biggest spenders, such as the Bush PACs, have reaped only scant improvement in the polls for their efforts. Factors include a changed TV ad landscape thanks to media-master Donald Trump, who has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of free TV time from news coverage and debates, and a failure to break through with distinct content to the target audiences, say analysts. When Right to Rise (Bush PAC), New Day for America (Kasich PAC) and America Leads (Christie PAC), which spent an estimated $26.4 million combined in New Hampshire in 2015, all air an ad focused on Islamic terrorism, no one candidate stands out for voters. As candidates start to recast tactics and budgets (and Trump launches his first paid TV ads), 2015 TV spending is likely to be dwarfed, opined Ken Goldstein, a University of San Francisco professor of politics tracking advertising: “It seems like that was a bunch of money this fall, but that was just the sorbet before the main course. That wasn’t even the appetizer.” To see a current sampling of political TV ad messages, go to the NYT story:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Prep for Social Media Crowding in 2016 Election

Social media marketing has become an essential part of political candidate and cause campaigning in the 2016 election, building on the proven success of platforms such as Facebook in 2014 and the improved targeting available this time around. The problem is that everyone has the same idea, and the big-money PACs are shifting premium dollars to grab social attention, warns Mitch Dunn, senior vice president of Empower MediaMarketing, in an Politics post. This will create two new problems for social marketers, political and commercial, especially on the popular Facebook platform. Due to Facebook’s strict limit on news feed ad frequency, if more campaigns continue to use Facebook, there can be crowding out of marketers, notes Dunn. Since individual ads can only appear on Facebook twice a day, more total ads can limit an individual ad space in the news feed. The cost per thousand impressions (CPM) also can be more unpredictable and expensive. Since political campaigns often use microtargeting to focus on extremely small segments of the population, any campaign targeting similar segments on Facebook may notice higher CPMs than normal. More than in the past, political campaigns need anticipate social strategy issues and costs. Solutions include adjusting timing to avoid conflict with other higher-spending campaigns targeting the same niche, testing new target niches, and expanding ad spend to other targetable social media platforms courting political action, such as Twitter, SnapChat, YouTube, etc. For more:

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Where's the Bang for Political Consulting Bucks?

Candidates pouring money into the coffers of political consultants, especially for TV ads, aren't getting much bang for their bucks so far in this election cycle. In fact, a December 2015 New York Times piece by Adam Sheingate, chairman of the Johns Hopkins University political science department, looked at 2016 presidential hopefuls' spending on political consulting firms and noted an often inverse relationship between dollar outlays and poll rankings. For example, Jeb Bush has spent over $50 million to date with a handful of political consulting firms (mainly for TV ads) to earn 3% support in recent CNN/ORC polls, while Donald Trump spent just $1.2 million in the same period to earn a 39% support position in the polls. A ranking of 10 Republican candidates by consultant spending through the end of 2015 has Bush in the lead, with Carson coming in second (for 10% poll support) and Christie in third place for 5% poll results. (Poll leader Trump ranks ninth in spending out of 10.) On the Democratic side, front-runner Hillary Clinton spent the most on consultants at about $18.5 million in 2015--spread evenly over TV, digital media, direct mail/fundraising and polling--but it has earned her higher poll numbers than Bernie Sanders with his $4.9 million consultant outlay. Thanks mainly to media ad costs, 2016 is on track to outdo 2012 in terms of political consulting spending. In 2012, consultants billed federal candidates, parties and super PACs more than $3.6 billion for products and services, Sheingate notes, with 70% of that amount going to firms specializing in the production and placement of media (mainly TV). As of December 10, 2015, candidates and their affiliated super PACs have already spent more than $163 million on consulting services, compared with just $43 million spent on consulting at the same point in 2012 campaigns. By the way, $45 million of 2015's $163 million is accounted for by Jeb Bush's media (TV) dollars, point out Sheingate. For more detail on spending by candidate and promotional channel, see