Cellphones and Do Not Call lists have caused pollsters headaches for years. Now, ad makers are faced with the conundrum of the unreachable voter. The advent of DVRs, streaming TV and satellite radio are insulating voters more and more from traditional broadcast advertising. Michael Beach, whose firm Targeted Victory is consulting for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, believes online targeting will give campaigns a way to penetrate this splendid ad isolation. He explains how.
C&E: Why target voters online as opposed to through TV, print or radio?
Beach: We did a telephone survey using a Republican and Democratic polling firm. What we found out was that one in three voters hadn't watched live TV in a week. If you ran an ad, there was no chance of them seeing it on television. That just opens up a lot of questions. And that was eight months ago. That number's gone up. Republicans were at the same rate as Democrats. If you're in a 50/50 race and one candidate uses his resources to reach those people and one candidate doesn't, the other candidate's going to lose.
C&E: When you're targeting people online, what should you put in front of their eyeballs?
Beach: The creative part is still the issue. Yeah, we'd love to have two-minute custom web videos. But when you get into the thick of it, I don't know [if] you'll see web-focused content at that rate. I think you'll see 30 eight-second versions of a 30-second ad, where it's got interactive sign ups.
C&E: What about social media -- is there any value to a candidate putting himself out there on, say, Twitter?
Beach: I don't think you want them tweeting thirty times a week about the Super Bowl or something. They’re held to a higher professional standard. But anything that can humanize the person. It's not a game changer, like it's going to win or lose. But it's just a softening and online's the best medium to do that. It's on your terms.