Monday, January 8, 2018

Digital Strengths Required Even in a "Wave" Year

Republicans are worrying, and Democrats rejoicing, over signs that 2018 may be a "wave election" year that sweeps Democrats to control of the House and maybe even Senate. Before Democratic hopefuls get cocky or Republicans throw in the towel, both should note a recent Campaigns & Elections article about lessons learned in Democrat Doug Jones' historic win in deep-red Alabama. C&E makes the point that, wave or no wave, a winning campaign has "got to leave it all on the field, regardless of what the forecast is ... To wit, Jones won by just over 20,000 votes—and few predicted he’d defeat Roy Moore." C&E cites six digital marketing lessons from Jones' victory. Start with realizing the importance of authenticity in both the message and how it is conveyed, especially in online ads and video where an authenticity will matter more than slick production. Note that digital success requires more than standard online ads; Jones' campaign invested heavily in social and engagement platforms, bought standalone video and audio inventory, used display and rich media, and maxed out what was possible on search. Third, C&R warns, a percentage-based budget that starts with heavy TV spending and divides small remaining percentages among other channels will risk missing that vaunted wave; C&E advises using an audience-first approach instead, maximizing reach and frequency for all marketing channels taken together and based on how various voting groups get their news and information. Fourth, campaigns need to focus on engagement as well as reach to get people to remember an ad in an extremely crowded media environment. That means investing in social media platforms and going beyond traditional display ads by using HTML5 and rich media to embed interactive content and voting resources in standard banners. Then get those engaging ads to more voters by using digital to expand voter reach, especially given the falling impact of traditional media channels (40% of voters watch no TV, C&E notes). But don't try to stretch a digital budget too thin at the outset striving for maximum audience; pick off priority audiences and build the program from there, C&E advises. See the whole article at