Campaign professionals find themselves at the intersection of three critical issues being debated in our society today: Freedom of Speech, Election Integrity, and Privacy. And recent changes to campaign advertising policies by Twitter, Google, and (likely) Facebook have forced our industry to rethink our reliance on these targeting tools for online advertising.
But remember why we use data for targeting online advertising in the first place: We want to reach more voters more efficiently. The bar for efficiency is set pretty low in politics given that broadcast mediums and cable TV involves lots of impressions outside of a targeted electorate. A study from Targeted Victory and Google found that 75 cents of every dollar spent on broadcast TV went outside of the target district in 2014.
I think too many political marketers have overcompensated by targeting online so narrowly that they exclude likely voters. Even if the match rate for your data is as high as 60-70% only targeting to a voter file means you’re not speaking to 30-40% of the target you’ve identified as most critical! That’s not an acceptable strategy.
The major tech platform’s bans on “microtargeting” will force campaigns to be doing what they already should have been doing: balancing their advertising targeting to include context and behavior. Paired with a renewed commitment to owned audiences like email, SMS, and website, this will give campaigns the reach they need at an efficiency that still blows legacy channels out of the water.
It’s also critical that we ensure campaign budgets continue to follow where voters are spending more and more of their time – online.
As we see in the commercial space, in the last eight years advertising spend has reached equilibrium with time spent on media. Politics is still playing catch up and we can’t let the disruptions from Twitter, Google, and Facebook set us back.
The major tech platforms and the attention economy have distracted us from our roots as campaigners – building our own infrastructure for winning elections – because we’ve enjoyed the ability to reach voters, quickly, easily, and cheaply.
Let’s use the current moment as an opportunity to refocus on winning elections and building organizations that add to our capacity year over year instead of just plowing millions of dollars into advertising cycle after cycle.