The Obama campaign was able to integrate its data with Facebook data to create custom ads served through its fans. This extended the campaign’s message by way of Facebook friends, enlisting more ardent supporters to opt-in to sponsor ad messages and push friends of friends down the chain of getting enthusiastic, getting involved and finally getting out to vote—replicating the equally effective door-to-door efforts virtually.
The best part about data integration for online communications is the ability to immediately gauge success and make changes on the fly to take advantage of results, trends and real-time data.
Testing the response to various messages for fundraising, activation and even persuasion will show which issues, messages and calls-to-action work best with each segment. Resources are then redeployed behind those messages with greater intel to optimize ads that drive higher traffic numbers, increase the number of donors to a campaign, increase dollars per donation or just serve the most persuasive ads.
2. Targeting & Personalization
In such a polarized climate, every election is decided on the margins, especially at the presidential level. Consider this: Mitt Romney lost New Hampshire, Ohio, Florida and Virginia by 429,000 votes collectively. Had the Romney campaign been able to persuade half of the voters mentioned above, he would have garnered 272 electoral votes and would be sitting in the Oval Office today.
2012 saw the rise of Hulu, online video, Pandora, and Internet connected gaming devices as vehicles for online political ads. Advertising-based subscription video services like Hulu offer terrific opportunities for precise geo-targeting and content-based targeting because of the demographic and behavioral information content providers keep on their subscribers. This data allows advertisers to utilize more relevant targeting with more customized messaging.
Both presidential campaigns also utilized heavy traditional media buys with local broadcast TV, targeted cable systems and networks to reach mass audiences. Since each media market is unique and voter goals vary by geographic area, presidential campaigns determine how much to spend in each area according to voter performance. Once budgets are decided, media buying firms must decide how to most efficiently reach the most important voter segments.
The Romney campaign focused on a one-size-fits-all ad strategy targeted only to their voter profile, generally airing one or two ads at any given time. The Obama campaign went pretty deep both in their network and program choices as well as message personalization with content targeted specifically at voters in various groups with buys that matched each audience profile. In some cases, the Obama campaign had 10 or more ads up on air in a given market.
Some might look at that and call it overkill (especially the voters who had to endure that many ads), but in Ohio, for example, it allowed the Obama campaign to air ads on choice targeted to females, ads regarding tire factory closings in Akron and Canton and youth GOTV messages targeted at new voters and the 18-34 crowd.
The Obama campaign also took advantage of newly available addressable targeting with Dish Network. Within the same ad slot there would be multiple ads targeted to different households depending on the specific demographics of the satellite consumer. A voter in Household A would receive a persuasion ad because they were considered undecided, while a voter in Household B would be served a GOTV ad because, even though they supported the president, they needed an extra push to get the polls. Those two voters could have lived in the house next door or across the street from one another. This is TV 2.0—addressable advertising on your living room HDTV, not just your laptop and mobile device.
3. Multi-Screen Technology
Technology companies are driving media consumption behaviors by allowing the consumer (and voters) new and exciting ways to watch their favorite content and share it with their own networks of friends. The amount of video that is consumed by an individual is only limited by the bandwidth available and the restrictions of a data plan. As new technologies develop, media buys must continue to research, test and monitor how voters utilize new devices to consume media both independently and in conjunction with traditional media.