Using digital advertising for political campaignsGreg Swiszcz
The votes were out and now they’re in! No matter what party you represent, your goal is to win the election. Digital Advertising is capable of aiding in your soon to be victory. In fact, in 2020, online spending captured 22% of political ad budgets.
As this number continues to grow annually, it’s important to understand the ins and outs in regard to what’s available for you.
First, let’s take a look at some of the digital products available for Political Campaigns:
- Native Ads
- Mobile Conquesting
- Video/OTT Ads (no YouTube)
- HHIP Targeting
- Facebook and Instagram
- Display Ads
- Geo-Framing Ads
- SEO & Reputation Management
When it comes to deciding which product(s) make the most sense for your campaign, knowing the differences between them is vital. Also, knowing how they are similar is just as important.
When it comes to the above mentioned products, Social Mirror Ads, Native Ads, Video/OTT Ads, and Display Ads all pull from the same list of targeting categories. Here’s a list of some of the political categories you could choose from:
Now, let’s look at how they work.
Social Mirror Ads look like posts from your Social Media page, but are ads that appear on thousands of websites and apps we have access to. The ads can be single image, video, or event carousel.
When users click on the Call-To-Action button, it takes them to your website. When users click on any of the social icons, it takes them to your Social Media page (like your Facebook page). Click here to view a Social Mirror Ad in Action.
With Social Mirror Ads, you can target your audience using Behavioral Targeting (sample list used above), Keyword Targeting, Artificial Intelligence, and Retargeting.
Native Display or Video Ads go across all devices and match the look, feel and context of the website or app where they are seen, using targeting strategies.
These ad creatives could be any of hundreds of formats depending on the device and website or app where they are served. What’s cool, is that they are created in real time to match the format of where it’s appearing.
Here are a few examples of what a Native Political Ad could look like:
Native Ads also use the same targeting strategies as Social Mirror: Behavioral Targeting, Keyword Targeting, Artificial Intelligence and Retargeting. Native also has the ability to utilize Email Matching. So, if you have an email database that you’ve collected or bought, you can utilize this strategy to target those email addresses when they are online.
Video can be Pre-Roll Ads that play before the content someone has clicked to watch and appear on websites or apps across all devices. Video can also be Over-The-Top (OTT) video ads which are embedded into programming content people stream on their internet Connected TVs.
If you have video content, you definitely want to utilize it, no matter the platform you’re using. From 2018 to 2020, political spending in online video grew 216%!
With Video Pre-Roll Ads, you can utilize the standard four strategies to target your specific audience: Behavioral Targeting, Keyword Targeting, Artificial Intelligence, and Retargeting.
OTT on the other hand only allows you the choices of Behavioral, Artificial Intelligence and Retargeting. No Keyword option here.
Again, the Video/OTT options also utilize the same Behavioral Category options as Native Ads and Social Mirror Ads.
Display Ads are your typical “banner ads” that you see online. They go across all devices, appearing on websites and apps, using targeting strategies. These targeting strategies are the same four as previously mentioned: Behavioral Targeting, Keyword Targeting, Artificial Intelligence, and Retargeting.
Display Ads also use the same set of Behavioral Targeting categories as Social Mirror Ads, Native Ads, and Video/OTT Ads.
Do you know how many times voters are bombarded with direct mail pieces? The answer is 24! That’s the average number of political mail pieces received by registered voters.
With that being said, we have 2 digital options that are a great alternative to direct mail. Consider these two options Direct Mail for the Internet.
Mobile Conquesting is using location based, demographic, and behavioral targeting to reach consumers with display and video ads on their mobile devices.
With Mobile Conquesting, there are many targeting strategy options available. The first is Behavioral Targeting. There are a lot of new categories that are available, including people that voted in specific elections. Here’s a sample of some of the categories available to use in your campaign:
Also, there were some new categories that were just recently added, including those that voted in the 2020 General and Primary Election!
Another popular strategy within Mobile Conquesting is Address Targeting (Direct Mail for the Internet Option 1). With Address Targeting, we’re able to utilize a database of physical addresses that the candidate or organization provides. We then serve ads to those specific addresses when people are at those addresses, and continue to follow those people after they leave. (*Note: You cannot use geo-fencing or geo-retargeting strategies around polling stations).
With Mobile Conquesting, there are 4 different ad sizes that would be put into rotation. Here’s an example as to what they look like.
Household IP Targeting (Direct Mail for the Internet option 2)
Household IP Targeting is where we take a list of physical addresses, find their IP (internet) address, and show them your Display, Native, or Video ad only to those people, across ALL devices.
So, rather than using direct mail, which:
- Poor frequency (one time shot)
- Expensive to create and print
- Expensive to mail
- Easy to miss
- Hard to tarck
Using either Mobile Conquesting Address Targeting or Household IP Targeting, you can reach your target audience many times (in some cases 25-50 times within a month).
Facebook and Instagram is where a lot of changes have recently taken place. In fact, it’s kind of its own world when it comes to digital advertising as a whole.
One of those changes is the placement of Facebook Ads. Political Ads cannot run in Messenger, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Audience Network, Facebook Stories, or Instant Articles. I guess it’s easier to just say that Facebook has limited ad placement for political ads to ONLY Facebook and Instagram News Feed and Instagram Stories.
There is also a limit to the types of Ads you can run on Facebook. You can run:
- Single Image/Carousel Ads
- Collection Ads
- Event Response Ads (to help you promote your event)
- Lead Ads
The biggest change that came to Facebook and Instagram is the availability of targeting categories. Unfortunately, Facebook and Instagram don’t have the plethora of categories to choose from like some of the previous products. In fact, the categories that are available are VERY broad. Here’s an example of what some candidates use on Facebook:
What Facebook does still offer is the ability to utilize a database of yours to create a “Custom Audience” campaign. This is where we can take the following info and show your ad ONLY to those people when they are on Facebook or Instagram:
- List of Emails
- List of Phone Numbers
- Full names and Zips
Lastly, you have SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Geo-Framing.
This is not a form of digital advertising, but the practice of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. This process is going to allow users to find your website (about you or your causes) organically through searching on Google.
This is definitely one of the more niche products out there that can be used to go back in time to previous events where we have captured people’s mobile device ID’s, map those to their homes, and then show them the ads across all devices.
Now that you are a little familiar with some of your options in regard to which digital product(s) you may use for your campaign, let’s talk about some important information to know about political campaigns and digital advertising.
To run ads for Display, Mobile Conquesting, Household IP Targeting, Native Ads, Video or OTT Ads, and Social Mirror, information about the candidate or organization needs to be confirmed. Here’s the info that they are looking for:
(* indicates a mandatory field):
- U.S. FEC Identification Number:
- Organization Name*:
- State, Province, or Region*:
- Zip or Postal Code*:
- Independent Expenditure Committee: Yes or No? (A political committee that makes only independent expenditures: it spends money on political communications that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate and does not coordinate with a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, or an agent of the candidate.)
- Treasurer Name*: (Treasurer for the campaign purchasing the ads)
- Subject of the Ads*: (The candidate or ballot initiative that is supported or opposed)
- Campaign creative must include a “Paid for by” on the ad
When it comes to Facebook, there’s a little more information needed:
(* indicates a mandatory field):
- Organization Name*:
- Street address*:
- Street address 2:
- ZIP/Postal code*:
- Organization phone*:
- Email*: (Must have the same domain as the website and you’ll need access to the inbox)
- Website*: (Must have the same domain as the email)
- Treasurer Name:
- Director Name:
- Point of Contact:
- Committee ID:
- Confirm your connection to your organization via email and phone. You will receive an email or call (we will let you know which one) to the provided email or phone and will receive a confirmation code. We need that code passed along to us within 24 hours.
- Review your information and submit disclaimer. We will submit this on your behalf and use this disclaimer for all Social ads.
- Provide us with your campaign creative. The images and text do not need a “Paid for by” disclaimer – a disclaimer is automatically added to your ad using the organization information provided above.
A few additional key points to be aware of:
- We no longer purchase political ads for PPC or YouTube, although a candidate can purchase directly for themselves.
- Political ads are not permitted in certain areas depending on the topic of the ad. It’s important to have a “paid for by” disclaimer to get the ad approved. Otherwise, you can run political ads within Google as long as you comply with regional policies. The restrictions are (* indicates a mandatory field):
- No ads in Washington state due to a campaign finance law with stringent reporting guidelines.
- In Nevada you are not allowed to run ads related to ballot measures and candidates for state and local elections.
- In New York you must fill out the following information:
- Name of your registered independent expenditure committee. * This must match the name on the registration document that has been filed with the New York State Board of Elections.
- Name of authorized representative*
- Contact email*
- In New Jersey you are not allowed to run ads related to ballot measures and candidates for state and local elections.
- In Maryland you are not allowed to run ads related to ballot measures and candidates for state and local elections.
- Our Online Audio does not accept Political ads
As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to placing ads for your candidate or your organization during political seasons. There’s also a lot of information that is needed in order to run the campaign. Don’t count all of your ballots yourself. Allow a team that knows the ins and outs of political advertising help you win your election!