Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Who Do Voters Trust? Media, Politicians or None

President Donald Trump and his political and media supporters have been preaching against the "fake news." What impact has that had on voters? How much do voters trust the media vs. politicians? One year after Trump's victory, the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison commissioned a national survey to find out whom Trump supporters trust and how that confidence is related to whom the American people want to make political decisions. While support from Republicans clearly remains key to Trump’s chances for success, the survey reveals that party is less important than Trump's cult of personality. A representative sample of 2,000 Americans was asked, “When the news media and politicians disagree about the facts of a situation, which one are you more likely to trust?” and 70% of the public still chose the media. However, among those Americans who approved of President Trump’s job performance (about 38% of the sample), 80% said they trusted politicians over the news media. These were largely, but not exclusively, white men. Yet these same Trump supporters do not trust politicians in general with making important decisions about how our democracy works. Survey respondents were asked who they thought should be making our political decisions—ordinary people, politicians, or an equal mix of the two—and 69% preferred an equal mix. More surprisingly, only 6% of those who said they trusted politicians over the media (overwhelmingly Trump supporters) also said they wanted those same politicians making decisions about running the country. This suggests that Trump’s support is less about partisan loyalty or adherence to a philosophy of democratic governance than it is about confidence in Trump himselfand even that support has been dwindling to historic lows. It also suggests that Republican politicians hoping to ride Trump's coattails in the 2018 midterm elections may be in for a bumpy ride as they court his "base." For more, see https://www.vox.com/mischiefs-of-faction/2017/11/21/16684474/trump-voters-media-trust

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Study Details Direct Mail Impact on Voters

Political candidates and causes in 2018 election campaigns will want to give direct mail a key role based on a recent joint study from the USPS and the American Association of Political Consultants: "Voters and Mail: Five Insights to Boost Campaign Impact." The study found, for example, that mail is especially effective in moving voters to action, with 66 % of Millennials (voters aged 18-34) and 52% of non-Millennials saying that political direct mail motivated them to search for additional information about a candidate. More significantly, 57% of Millennials and 54% of non-Millennials said that political direct mail helped them make a decision on how to vote. With an increasing number of voters choosing early and absentee voting, direct mail can help campaigns win votes before the polls open because voters rely on mail to remind them of deadlines. In fact, 81% of U.S. adults say they prefer direct mail when they don’t know about an absentee ballot deadline, and 69% wanted direct mail when they didn’t know about a voter registration deadline. However, with so many information sources competing for voter attention--from TV to social media to traditional mail--the most successful direct mail will cater to voter content preferences. Per the study, 82% of registered voters want campaign mail to address a candidate’s position on the issues, 74% indicated that they were interested in campaign mail that contrasts the candidate with their opponent on the issues, and 73% were interested in campaign mail that illustrated the candidate’s voting record on past issues. While voters are inundated with communications in national elections, it's important to remember for next year's midterms that direct mail has special impact in state and local races, especially for younger voters. For example, a study released by the Postal Service found that Millennials found direct mail to be key in helping make a decision about races at the state level (82%) and local level (80%). For more political mail insights, see the USPS/AAPC research at https://www.deliverthewin.com/voters-and-mail-5-insights-to-boost-your-campaign/

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Research: Deepening Internal GOP & Dem Divides

The Pew Research Center's latest study is confirming what the headlines are saying: Both Democrats and Republicans face deep internal party divisions. As causes and candidates ready for the 2018 election cycle, successful targeting and messaging may need to be more complex to build winning voter coalitions. Per Pew's "typology," the Core Conservatives still represent the largest faction (31%) among Republicans, although they represent only 15% of registered voters. They are the traditional male, well-off, fiscal conservatives supporting lower taxes, trade and global U.S. leadership--and the candidates that Steven Bannon's "Trumpism" is targeting. The older, less educated Country First Conservatives, who are wary of immigration and global involvement, make up just 7% of registered voters. Can they find an uneasy alliance against the "establishment" with the Market Skeptic Republicans, representing another 12% of registered voters? Most of the Market Skeptics are suspicious of financial institutions and government (and even back raising corporate taxes). Finally, the younger and more ethnically diverse New Era Enterprisers, a la Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio, are both pro-business and positive about immigration, and they hold 11% of voters. These warring GOP factions are divided by issues such as immigration, global involvement and homosexuality, while the Democrats are more likely to argue the best policy to effect agreed-upon ideology. The Democrats, a party of increasing racial, ethnic and financial diversity, are led by the 48% identified as Solid Liberals, who take traditional liberal positions on almost all issues. The Solid Liberals also represent the largest batch of registered voters nationally at 19%. While the less educated Opportunity Democrats agree with the Liberals on major issues, they are more pro-business and make up another 13% of voters. Disaffected Democrats represent another 14% of voters and, despite their moniker, are actually positive about the party, just cynical about government and the "system." Finally, 9% of voters are classified as Devote and Diverse Democrats, who are less affluent and more socially conservative. For details, including survey views on President Trump, see http://www.people-press.org/2017/10/24/political-typology-reveals-deep-fissures-on-the-right-and-left/

Thursday, September 14, 2017

6-Second Ad Trend Challenges Political Campaigns

Political campaigns are facing a new challenge in the fast-paced digital ad race. Political marketers, who have honed standard 30-second video ads for TV and online, must now adapt to a trend to 6-second ad spots, reports a recent article in Campaigns & Elections magazine. With public attention spans shortening, corporate marketers are declaring that 6 seconds is a more effective format, especially for reaching "a younger demographic." The article notes that Google’s YouTube has been holding a contest to promote the format, that Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg recently told investors that the length was ideal for sales pitches, and that Fox TV debuted its first ever 6-second ad slots during the "Teen Choice Awards" in August. Although both Democrats and Republicans want to court the "younger demographic" in 2018, political media consultants express misgivings on their ability to leverage the trend, citing concerns about condensing a message into a 6- or 10-second "snackable" ad creative that will still persuade. They worry that even today's micro-targeting of voters will not overcome a poorly executed appeal. "We found the perfect voter," Casey Phillips, a media consultant with a GOP client roster explains for the magazine, "we can buy [what he is watching], but what is it that we’re going to tell him in 10 seconds, and get it done in a way that doesn’t suck. That’s where we're all having problems." Budget limitations pose another hurdle for political marketers.  Political consultants see the costs to produce and edit down 30-second spots into shorter versions, as well as spread those ads across the many available digital and traditional media formats, as putting added strain on campaign budgets in the next election cycle. For more on the trend to "snackable" ads, read https://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/snackable-ads-giving-some-media-consultants-heartburn

Thursday, August 17, 2017

'Memes' the Word for Today's Political Donors

Donors to political campaigns and causes are being drawn to a new strategy for political influence: viral digital. In addition to funding TV ads and PACs, The New York Times reports that deep-pocket donors are now bankrolling partisan organizations that specialize in creating catchy, shareable memes, messages and videos, especially on social media platforms. Outfits ranging from Occupy Democrats to the alt-right Milo Inc. are gathering donors who hope that their streams of aggregated links, captioned images and short videos will garner funds, votes and real-world action. While operatives across the political spectrum are being attracted now, the bandwagon got rolling with the Trump campaign's success with Twitter and other social platforms, to the point where a study found that nearly two-thirds of the most popular election tweets were either anti-Clinton or pro-Trump. The Times story cites many new participants from the left/progressive side of the aisle today, including David Brock, a well-known Democratic operative, who started an effort last year to raise $40 million to support Shareblue, a left-wing viral news outfit to rival alt-right publisher Breitbart. And there's John Sellers, a left-wing organizer and former Greenpeace activist, who started a Facebook page called The Other 98% to promote environmentalism and other progressive causes, which now boasts 5 million followers and funding of its nonprofit affiliate by donors such as billionaire George Soros-backed Open Society Foundations. The low cost for potentially high impact is especially attractive to causes and donors. Per the TimesStand Up America, a progressive group run by Sean Eldridge, husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, reaches, on average, 10 million people weekly by only spending "in the low six figures" to produce a Facebook page of shareable graphics and news. For more detail, read the full story at https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/06/business/media/political-donors-put-their-money-where-the-memes-are.html

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Game-Changer? Programmatic Ads, Survey Wed

A union of consumer survey data with programmatic advertising could help political campaigns pre-screen audiences for better ad targeting in the 2018 midterm elections. Two digital companies, Lotame, a data management platform for advertisers, and Survata, a market research/survey firm, have announced a partnership to create what they are calling a "segment validation product," per a recent Adweek story. Lotame will supply more than 8 billion data points to Survata, which will ping back against those points and survey an actual audience. A client of the partnership product can then independently target the right participants with ads. Andy Monfried, founder and CEO at Lotame, explained to Adweek that the new partnership will enable clients "to automatically verify third-party data validity as part of their data strategy" and "deliver on the promise of 'real-time' actionable insights through the use of enhanced data." Cleveland-based ad agency Marcus Thomas is already in line to test the system, according to the report. But it's easy to see the potential appeal to political marketers--for example to improve targeted response for fundraising-based digital advertising. Chris Kelly, Survata CEO, acknowledged to Adweek that, while brands will likely always be the primary focus, "this could indeed be used for political audiences, too." So expect to see some 2018 political candidates and causes drawn to a promise that their programmatic media buys can be launched with "full confidence the audiences they are targeting contain the right people," as Kelly says. For the complete story: http://www.adweek.com/digital/an-ad-tech-firm-and-a-survey-player-want-to-improve-programmatic-buying-by-pre-screening-audiences/

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Political Ads Wither in Trump Presidency's Chaos

If your political or advocacy ad campaign is confused about what, when and where to promote, you're not alone. Even though politics is leading the news cycle, driving traffic online and in broadcast media, the chaos of the Trump presidency is leaving many political advertisers in limbo, according to a recent AdExchanger article by James Hercher. Jordan Lieberman, politics and public affairs lead at the ad targeting firm Audience Partners, explained to Hercher that “the legislative calendar is so messed up, it’s not leaving time for organizations or activists to really plan a campaign.” Typically, the year following a presidential campaign sees many high-profile bills and public opinion ad campaigns. This year, without any bills or coherent legislative direction, special interests and advocacy groups are hesitant. “There’s this element of the unexpected now,” noted Grace Briscoe, vice president of candidates and causes at ad tech company Centro. “Clients that previously planned out three to six months ahead around Congressional recesses and the legislative calendar are doing maybe week-long tactical campaigns.” Four political digital ad buyers told Hercher that soft demand has decreased rates for media packages offered by publishers as diverse as the Daily Caller, Roll Call, McClatchy, RealClearPolitics and Daily Kos, and that even national news publishers with broader audiences are feeling the ad demand pinch. In fact, brand and advocacy advertisers apparently find high-profile political coverage today so anathema, regardless of partisan viewpoint, that they are dodging it altogether, with Briscoe reporting a marked drop in brand and advocacy clients interested in appearing next to political stories. See https://adexchanger.com/politics/political-media-struggles-capitalize-trump-bump/

Monday, May 22, 2017

Why Direct Mail Is Still Top Political Campaign Tool

At Beyond Voter Lists, we specialize in supporting political direct marketing, especially when it come to targeted data for postal efforts. So we're happy to read that one takeaway from this year's major political marketing conferences is the continued value of direct mail. In Campaigns & Elections magazine, Elena Neely, national lead for the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS) Political Mail Outreach efforts, describes five reasons she supports that conclusion. Let's start with an obvious one: Mail is still the only campaign channel with 100% voter reach since you have to have a mailing address to register to vote. Next, direct mail is a highly targetable medium, and political campaign success today relies more on targeting specific audiences than mass marketing. The proof is in Borrell Associates’ 2016 political advertising analysis report that more targetable media, including digital, cable and direct mail, “gained $1.7 billion over 2012 spending levels while radio, TV and newspapers lost nearly $1.3 billion.” Next, direct mail retains a place in the campaign promotional mix because there just is no one-size-fits-all medium for audience targeting; as the Pew Research Center found, people are influenced by multiple information sources, with nearly half of 2016 respondents learning about the presidential race from five or more types of sources, ranging from cable television to social media to campaign e-mails. Direct mail also fits easily into a multichannel effort; for example, campaigns can use a mailer's QR code to digitally connect voters to a social media platform or campaign website. Yes, different generations and demographics respond to direct mail differently, but it works well across the board. A 2016 USPS survey not only found that 46% of baby boomers ranked mail as their preferred political ad format but younger millennials also rated political mail “important” for state elections (82%), local elections (80%) and even national races (76%). And when it comes to vital swing voters, 58% said mail was “very or somewhat helpful,” and that compares with television (55%), digital ads (48%) and e-mail (46%). Finally, as attention spans shorten and media noise escalates, direct mail can use tangible creativity to grab share of mind, with dimensional mail, audio mail and video mail as examples. For the complete article, go to https://www.campaignsandelections.com/campaign-insider/5-things-every-campaign-should-know-about-direct-mail-last-cycle

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Political Campaigns Face Social Media Changes

Social media strategy is essential for the success of political campaigns and causes today. As the Pew Research Center reports, a majority of Americans now say they get news via social media, and half of the public turned to social media sites to learn about the 2016 presidential election. Social success in 2016 doesn't mean campaigns can rest on their laurels, however. A Digital Information World post by Anthony Bergs--including a handy infographic from CJG Marketing--cites a list of social media changes and trends that political marketers should include in 2017 strategies. For example, improved social targeting got a lot of buzz in 2016, with campaigns embracing the effectiveness of Facebook's “Lookalike” audiences. But in 2017, machine learning, artificial intelligence and access to increasing amounts of data--from demographics and behavior all the way to forecasting of intent-- will support even more precise ad targeting, provided campaigns make the investment in audience data and analytics. The response-getting power of digital video is well-proven, so it's no shock that 48% of marketers are planning to add YouTube videos in 2017.  Campaigns and causes would be wise to also invest in an internal or external video content development team and live streaming,  now available on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter's Periscope, YouTube and Snapchat. Next to video at the top of social marketing agendas this year is "influencer marketing," with 84% of marketers planning at least one social media influencer campaign to find and leverage sources of followers and engagement. One reason for the influencer search is that the ability to generate free organic traffic via social media is waning thanks to social platform algorithms favoring paid ads and squeezing out organic content. With Facebook and Twitter offering just 2% to 4% organic reach for posts in 2016 (and falling), most political budgets need to include paid social ads. But here's good news: Chatbot technology is on the horizon and promises to handle a mass volume of user conversations one-on-one with customized content; Facebook's current Messenger bot is a harbinger of more to come. For more social media trends, check out the article and infographic at http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2017/01/infographic-social-media-marketing-trends.html

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Social Media Listening Informs New Political Strategy

Digital marketing to a targeted audience with relevant messaging is a must in politics now. But how can a campaign develop the required digital audience understanding to be most effective? One answer is social media listening, per a 2017 business2community.com post by Augustus Franklin, CEO of CallHub, supplier of voice and SMS broadcast software. Franklin cites 11 social media monitoring insights to help turbocharge your digital marketing strategy. Here are just his initial five tips: First, design a social media monitoring blueprint by creating an extensive list of relevant keywords and hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Find the people who follow your campaign or cause (or brand), have tweeted about it, or have "liked" relevant posts. Second, expand on the existing network of people who have shown interest in a keyword or hashtag and ask them to tweet with a certain hashtag, or share a post with their network, to garner the followers of your followers. Try to capitalize on advocates with influence in online communities outside the social networks, such as blogs or forums. Third, turn general demand into specific engagement by identifying social activity that aligns with your candidate or cause and reach out to these prospects with messages configured to their expressed interests/needs. Keep track of those who subsequently like, share, post, etc., because that engagement is a step closer to conversion (to a volunteer, donor or voter). Fourth, merge your social media inflow data with your marketing outreach list, and directly contact the socially engaged to ask them to spread your message. And fifth, use social listening to learn what each target audience segment wants to hear, from their perspectives, so you can specifically address challenges and needs in messaging. To get even more targeting insights, also monitor the activity on social networks of opponents and allies to see what people are saying. These insights can help to map engagement paths from interest to advocacy and to craft testing for analysis of what marketing works best. For all 11 tips, go to http://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/11-lessons-political-listening-supercharge-digital-strategy

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Trump Marketing Effect: Temporary or Lasting?

Entering 2017, political marketing has some new ground rules thanks to Donald Trump's unorthodox campaign and presidential style, per political pundits. For example, while political campaigns used to focus on motivating voters to get involved, voter passion (from protest marches to besieged political offices) seems to be the rule rather than the exception now. Where political campaigners once tried to fight voter apathy, today they need to understand and address voter demands. A recent Direct Marketing News article cites Will Bunnett, Clarify Agency principal and former senior e-mail writer and producer in 2008 at Obama for America: "The voters that are the subjects of political marketing are behaving much differently in this political climate than they have in the past. Right now, political marketing is less about cajoling people to get them motivated, and more about keeping up with the demands from voters." How did Trump succeed? With a branding strategy, opines Bunnett. "The [Trump] brand handled the persuasion and the turnout, so branding strategy will get more attention in the future of political marketing thanks to Trump's success with it," he tells DM News and adds, "I predict that in the wake of Trump, political marketers will refocus on strategy over tactics" such as moving voters up an engagement ladder from interest to petition to donation. But a big question is whether this is a permanent or temporary shift in the political winds. Bunnett, for one, warns political strategists to "avoid overcompensating for a shift in voter behavior that's ultimately probably temporary." He urges campaigns and causes to "adapt to the passion right now," but "not forget how to cajole." For the full article, see http://www.dmnews.com/marketing-strategy/how-trump-changed-political-marketing/article/637000/

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Study: Negativity Ruled 2016 Political Coverage

A Harvard University study released in December concluded that media coverage of the 2016 presidential election was overwhelmingly negative, topped only by the 2000 Bush-Gore campaign, according to an Associated Press (AP) news story in U.S. News. Once "horse race" stories about polls were eliminated, coverage of issues relating to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's fitness for office were identically 87% negative for each candidate, according to the report from Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. The researchers looked at coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News Channel nightly newscasts, along with The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal newspapers. The media analysis firm Media Tenor judged the tone of stories; for example, a story about the FBI reopening an investigation into Clinton's e-mails was judged a negative for her, while a story about lawsuits against Trump's business was a seen as negative for him. With all stories included, 71% of the overall presidential race coverage was negative, and 29% was positive. By comparison the 2000 presidential race had a negative-to-positive ratio of 75% to 25%. That's very different from earlier, more positive campaign coverage trends; in the Kennedy-Nixon campaign in 1960, for example, three-quarters of the coverage was judged positive, according to the Harvard report. Overall, whether positive or negative, Trump received far more media attention than any rival. Yet, while the negative tone may have generated interest as measured by television ratings, it didn't seem to drive voter turnout since unusually large numbers of voters either abstained from the presidential election or entered write-in candidates per early evaluations by the U.S. Elections Project, which collects data on national voter turnout. But perhaps the biggest issue for mainstream news organizations was the trend of voters snubbing mainstream relevancy in favor of news sources that bolstered their own viewpoints — including fake news sites. David Bohrman, a former CNN Washington bureau chief who helped with NBC's political coverage, summed up to AP: "The traditional gatekeepers were out there saying 'this is true and this is not.' But they were lost in the noise of 4,200 other sources of information." For the full story, see http://www.usnews.com/news/entertainment/articles/2016-12-07/study-2016-campaign-coverage-was-overwhelmingly-negative