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This year’s campaigns up and down the ballot adopted the best-of-the-best digital media tactics that emerged from the last presidential race.
Some campaigns, however, did more. They used integration of data and buying tactics to increase impact and accountability in their digital media programs.
From our viewpoint, the best digital programs of the 2014 cycle were the ones that integrated media planning across online channels to saturate audiences with individually targeted ads, optimized placements for the highest possible viewability, and reserved premium inventory as early as last spring.
On Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H.) reelect, for example, we got early buy-in from every member of the team on the digital buying strategy, which empowered the campaign to truly saturate its target audiences with segmented and coordinated messages on television, digital devices, in mailboxes, and at the door.
By going beyond the tactics of 2012, the campaign pushed custom audience sets not only to desktop users, but also to mobile devices via unique ID match as well as into social media platforms. Having these custom audience segments available in numerous platforms and on numerous devices ensured we could deliver ads at a higher frequency and reach likely voters no matter how they were connecting to the web.
In the past few years, advertising industry research has found a substantial amount of digital ads are not viewable. Fortunately, new technologies allow advertisers like us to see what ads are visible and what ads aren’t, which allowed us to integrate ad viewability metrics into our buying and optimization strategies.
On the Shaheen campaign, we used this data on behalf of the candidate to optimize and increase the rate at which our pre-roll video spots were watched to 100-percent audible and visible completion. This meant more of our targeted voters saw and heard our messages, rather than tabbing over in their web browser to check their email or hitting mute. Even as the market became totally saturated with political ads, our audible and visible video completion rates rose thanks to these optimizations.
In addition, by arranging upfronts with premium publishers and reserving inventory well before Labor Day, the campaign was able to reach younger voters consistently on reserved inventory on Xbox, Hulu, and YouTube, even when ad space was strained for many other advertisers in the final days.
Similarly, early reservations of high-impact takeovers on local inventory around key moments, such as the Republican Senate primary vote and candidate debates, allowed us to reach the most engaged voters and newsreaders with 100 percent share of voice placements on these days. Making reservations early also prevented the opposition and outside groups from getting their hands on premium inventory.
Next cycle, we expect these 2014 trends to become more widely adopted, just as many campaigns this cycle adopted the 2012 advances. This will add value and reduce waste for campaigns, but the best advertisers and campaigns will continue to innovate by pushing the envelope even further.
Andrew Eldredge-Martin and John Ellison are senior media directors at Precision Network, a digital media buying firm.