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Let’s say you’re running for Congress. In this super-engaged, donation-zealous era of Trump, you’re on the way to raising $100,000. Your campaign manager and a stranger in a C&E article instruct you to spend a quarter of that on digital advertising. So the next question is: what can you get for $25,000?
In the world of digital, actually quite a lot.
Produce professional videos
These days, it’s all about video. And rightly so. Well-produced videos drive more engagement and better conversion rates than any other user generated content. Conveniently, you don’t need anything longer than 15 or 30 seconds. In fact, paying for ads with a video longer than 30 seconds is like lighting your hard-earned campaign contributions on fire in the office parking lot.
Now, the cost of professionally produced videos varies greatly. But for $25,000, you can expect to shoot, produce, and edit between two-five videos. Keep in mind, you can use a single video across all advertising platforms and can share and reshare it organically.
You can also drive costs down by hiring your friends, and by supplementing professionally shot footage with your own videos, pictures, and music. Added savings come by limiting the number of shooting locations, interviews, rounds of edits, amount of b-roll and so on.
Serve your ad 3 million times on Facebook
Let’s say you’re running in a congressional district with 5 million people and for the sake of this article, you’re going to advertise to all of them. Assuming an average CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) of $6 to $8, your $25,000, could score you between 3 and 4 million impressions. If you increase the frequency with which your ads are served, you can increase ad recall, the likelihood that people remember your ad three days after seeing it, and further solidify your branding. By these calculations, you can send your ad to people an average of 1.5 times over the course of the campaign and still reach around 2 million unique people.
You can design your campaign around list acquisition ads and rebuild your email list. The ideal CPA for new email addresses is around $2 per email, but can be as much as $5 per email. This means that for $25,000, you’re adding 12,500 and 5,000 emails, respectively. Even if your CPA is closer to $10, you’ve still added 2,500 new emails to your list.
Reach 2 million people on Instagram
The CPM for Instagram is a bit higher, so you’ll reach fewer people here with your $25,000 than you will on Facebook. But assuming a CPM of $7-$9 and $25,000 to burn, you can still reach rack up between 2.7 and 3.5 million impressions.
If you serve your ad to each person 1.5 times, you’re reaching between 1.8 and 2.3 million unique people. Why run Instagram ads when Facebook gives you a better bang for your buck? Because you’ll need cross-platform strategy that catches the people who only use Facebook, as well as the people who rely solely on Instagram.
Deliver your ad 2 million times on Snapchat
Snapchat Discover video ads have an average CPM between $8 and $12, which means that your twenty-five grand would deliver between 2 and 3.1 million impressions.
Or create a Snapchat Geofilter that covers your district for the 30 days leading up to the Election at a cost of about $5 per 20,000 square feet. Want it to cover your whole district? With $25,000, you can probably swing it.
Get almost 9 million display ad impressions
The average CPM rate for display ads is $2.80, so your $25,000 will buy you about 8.9 million impressions through display ads. Plus ad buyers and DSPs can get your ads up on every website imaginable.
Spread these out over the course of a few months or cram them into the few weeks leading up to Election Day. Experts estimate that people now need to see your digital content 15-20 times before you’re lodged in their brains. For your $25,000, you can make sure 600,000 people see your ad 15 times.
Send a video ad more than 8 million times
As you can imagine, running video ads costs more than running display ads, but not as much as you might expect. With $25K you can still deliver a video ad about 8.3 million times. Since your theoretical district only has 5 million people, you can deliver your ad to each person multiple times.
Run 3 months of digital radio ads
You can run ads on Spotify or Pandora that combine a 30-second audio spot with a banner ad and secure more than 500,000 impressions. Or, stick with a standard banner ad, which has a lower CPM, and you’re looking at more than a million impressions. Depending on the size of your district, you can be running radio ads constantly for 3 months leading up to Election Day.
Bring in Pokemon
Turn your campaign office into a Pokemon GO gym or PokeStop and, at an average cost of $.50 per visitor, you can get 50,000 people in to battle other players or collect eggs and PokeBalls as they learn more about your campaign. Ask them to sign up for a volunteer shift before they play and you’ve killed two birds with one app.
The key is to find a combination of these strategies to ensure your content is in front of the right people, at the right frequency, and on the right platforms. This can seem a bit like shooting in the dark. But with a well-executed strategy, across multiple platforms, to specific audiences, supplemented with sufficient data, and engaging creative content, you can build an entire online ad campaign for less than the cost of a single TV ad.
Emily Gittleman is the digital director at 50+1 Strategies, a political advocacy/campaign consulting firm based in Oakland, Calif.