Despite banners being around for many years, campaigns are often surprised to know that we can deliver multi-part messaging via banner ads before the click. For example, we often have 15 seconds to work with (sometimes more), for animated or rotating headlines. Banner ads can also provide reinforcement to TV ads as they happen. Multitasking is increasingly common. Ericsson Consumer Lab discovered that 75 percent of TV watchers use mobile or computer devices while they are watching TV. As people’s heads bobble from the TV screen to their own computers or mobile devices, banner ads serving the campaign can be right there, supplementing the headlines of the TV ads. 

Make sure banners are part of the mix and demand coordination between the TV buy and online buy to ensure cohesion.

6. Planning other media as if online doesn’t exist

Let’s assume the spend in your race is fixed among the different media consultants, and the campaign is now tasked with figuring out exactly how the money is spread out within the different channels. For example, a cable buyer needs to put together a buy that targets working-age, affluent women, and they’re trying to determine the distribution among various cable zones within a district.

In most cases, these plans are laid out before a detailed online advertising budget or plan is established. As a result, the cable or broadcast buy is made as if the online buy doesn’t exist or won’t have any effect. But it does. Using the above example, If I determine that the same working age, affluent target is well-cookied and consuming tons of pre-roll in the zips that comprise a cable zone, the buyer might achieve greater efficiency by shifting money towards a different cable zone—or another important audience target.

Similarly, if I can determine that some portion of our direct mail list consistently opens their emails, or is very likely to be online, the direct mail firm can push their budget more towards those who aren’t as active. In the end, this kind of coordination (which would be a given in a traditional advertising agency setting), provides an efficiency and power to the overall buy that simply doesn’t exist when online is silo-ed after the fact.

7. Confusing online best practices with fortune-telling

The next time someone tells you that you should send your most important emails on Tuesday mornings, that they need to have 90 or fewer words above the first ask, or that you need 6 repetitions before someone can remember your message, you’d be wise to show them the door.

Stay in marketing long enough, and you’ll hear multiple variations of these rigid “best practices”, which often don’t verify in best results. For example, contrary to the best practices repeated in some new media training seminars, an Experian marketing study showed that response rates were highest on emails sent on the weekends and between 8pm-midnight, when volume was 2 percent compared to 40 percent volume between 8am and noon. I once had a client that found the best return on Friday evenings and with long detailed emails. You may find your email results have way more to do with your subject line versus timing. There are plenty of factors, but unless you’re doing significant testing, you really won’t know why it worked that time.

Even if you do test, it may not lead to usable long-term guidance: One of the great lessons to come out of the Obama 2012 online camp involved email – and the Obama team’s inability to predict the success or failure of any particular draft. Some of their best emails were long. Some were short. What tested well one week often didn’t work the next. They arguably ran the best, most sophisticated email program in political history, and they found they had to keep mixing it up and take nothing as gospel.  

Past performance should be a guide, not a decree. There are good reasons to send when everyone else following best practices are not. There are reasons to write a longer email when everyone else is following the template. Your candidate might resonate in ways others do not. In other words, while it’s fine to start with what worked in other campaigns, let your own data tell you what your best practices are, and write your own playbook accordingly.  

Brian Franklin is president of Impact Politics, which specializes in campaign communications and new media strategy. He is the co-chair of the AAPC Technology Committee.