Few things are certain in democracy. Election outcomes are difficult to predict and platform promises are dicey—at best. Really, there’s only ever been one thing certain about democracy; the power of a reputation. Oh, and taxes. Campaign objectives are important, but in nearly every democratic election (large or small), the winner has been the politician with the stronger reputation—or at least the ability to project a stronger image through political advertising.
Yes, I’m arguing that the fate of some of the most influential elections of our time (and prior) have been swayed at the hands of clever ad campaigns and timely marketing messages. Haven’t you seen Mad Men?
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Political Advertising: The Future
Voters are aging and a new era of voters are emerging in the political landscape. And just like in media, in retail, and in business, these younger generations consume politics different than their predecessors.
In fact, according to a recent study by Telaria, there will be roughly 52 million Gen Z and younger Millennials eligible to vote in the 2020 US election. This study also demonstrated that roughly 92% of this demographic intend to vote, and 70% intend to pay close attention to political advertising. This is a voter pool that cannot be underestimated.
The Opportunity in Political Advertising
Backup one sec, let’s start with the problem. The problem is that political advertising opportunities arise on an infrequent basis, are often difficult to acquire, and cannot easily be placed into revenue forecasts.
BUT, the opportunity is that there are literal buckets of cash to be made if you can swindle a political advertising contract or two when municipal, state, provincial, or federal campaigns kick off.
As a benchmark, The Wall Street Journal is predicting that ad spending for the 2020 US federal election will approach $10 billion. And of this 10 billion, it is estimated that 21%+ of this spend will be on digital advertising/marketing tactics. It doesn’t take much math to figure out that the right contract could decide the fate of your quarter—or maybe even the fiscal year.
The time is now. The 2020 United States presidential election is scheduled for November 3 of next year. With the budgets outlined above, this campaign is sure to be a historic display on the marketing and advertising front.
So you get the point. There’s money to be made and opportunity to be had, but how exactly can you capitalize on it?
How the Money Will Move
10 billion dollars is a fine sum of money, but it’s only of use to you if you know where exactly to find it, and have the resources you need to secure it.
Focal Regions & Markets
Certain states and certain channels will be host to greater degrees of opportunity than others.
Here’s what you need to know:
- 80% of the projected spend will still be on traditional media (such as broadcast television, cable, and radio), with the remainder dispersed across various digital media channels (Google, Facebook, etc.)
- Presidential general spending will account for nearly half of the spend, with $800M+ likely to be spent on digital video.
- Florida, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, and North Carolina are projected to exhibit the highest spend in the general election:
- House spending is projected to eclipse $1 billion in spending, while the Senate is projected to spend a relative $789 million.
PACs and Super PACs
Political action committees (PACs) were organized groups that supported political candidates or causes. Traditionally, these groups were bound by limited personal donations and were not able to accept corporate donations. However, a 2010 Supreme Court case changed this ruling and created the Super PAC, able to accept unlimited donations from any source.
Although these PACs and Super PACs are barred from directly coordinating activities with any candidate or campaign—the dividing line has proven to be foggy.
But, why should we care?
These 1,528 Super PACs (as of October 2019) have already collected nearly 200 million and spent 10 million this campaign season. These groups are just heating up in terms of donation collections, and have yet to spend the majority of their collections—creating a massive (additional) opportunity for advertising and marketing service providers like you.
Here are some of the top Super PACs focussed specifically on the 2020 federal election:
How to Acquire Political Advertising Contracts
10 billion bucks is cool and all, but how exactly can you go about securing yourself a big contract?
It’s a two-part process. You need to have a strategy in place, and then you need to have the right solution set to offer. Here is the strategy:
1. Lead Generation
Like all good marketing campaigns, you’re going to need to construct a bit of a pipeline. Political pipelines are a little different though. Traditionally, you might buy an email list for restaurants in your state and then run paid ads and email campaigns against them. In politics, this process might look a little more like this:
- Visit Secretary of State websites and County Board of Elections pages to track down contact information for campaign managers that you want to target
- Deploy some old school marketing tactics—these people might even answer a phone call
- Focus on education. Most campaign managers and politicians don’t fully understand the opportunity in digital, so it’s your job to enlighten them.
- Oh, and be aggressive, cause we know they are with their jobs.
2. Setting Expectations
Metrics are major. What will determine the success of the campaigns you plan to run for these clients? Impressions? CTR? Actions? These are all important, but in political advertising, there’s one metric to trump them all: votes. Have a plan to prove performance in the way of votes.
Creating audiences will also be key. You need to be hitting the right audiences with canvassing campaigns, advocacy campaigns, attack ad campaigns, and more. Leveraging look-a-like audiences on social can also be a shortcut for scaling marketing campaigns.
Now you just have to deliver on your promises. Most campaign managers will likely pay upfront for your services—so you have to perform. Campaign windows can also be very narrow, so be prepared to provide quick turnover.
The Top 4 Political Advertising Solutions
Most campaign managers and Super PACs know where to source traditional media services. However, that younger demographic will be won through digital media, and that $2+ billion in digital media spend remains largely undetermined. That’s where you come in.
The optimal service-based tool to take localized advertising to the next level. LocalAds is the intersection of premium ad technology, powerful location targeting, and multiple platform service—plus live reports to demonstrate ROI.
LocalAds predicts online and offline behaviors to serve ads more efficiently. Depending on your political clients’ ad budgets, you can combine display and video automation to create all encompassing, hyper targeted campaigns.
Here’s how it works:
Campaign speech locations are the optimal opportunity to leverage such powerful technology to resonate with supporters and drive advocacy. And we know that advocacy in politics leads to the most wonderful thing in marketing: the referral.
Or, if you want to get really scrappy, LocalAds could be leveraged as a competitor tool by geofencing competitor speech/campaign locations to collect data and leverage for later remarketing campaigns.
Oh, and the best part? With LocalAds, we do all of the work for you, all under your brand.
LocalAds is just the tip of the iceberg (albeit a large tip). There is so much more that you have the potential to offer the political advertising market. Here are some additional white-label products that you could provide campaign managers, under your brand.
2. Listing Sync Pro
Campaign offices are temporary locations, but they are immensely valuable temporary locations. But, what if they can’t get found? What if an individual were interested in making a campaign donation, but were unable to find a campaign office as a result of inaccurate or missing listings?
This is a real problem, and is especially problematic with temporary locations. Listing Sync Pro gives you the power to update the top 40+ listings for your political clients with one click. This will fix broken listings, protect listings from third party changes, and conquer organic search so that these offices can always be found.
3. Reputation Management
Politics is a game of image. Reputation Management is an image monitoring tool that campaign managers can leverage to monitor their candidates, their party, as well as competing candidates and their parties.
The work flow is as follows:
- Set up keyword search terms (ex. If you are the campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, you may want to be monitoring terms like “Bernie Sanders,” “Joe Biden,” and “Elizabeth Warren”)
- You will get an activity feed of all of the mentions of these keywords across the web, allowing you to monitor what’s being said about your representative and others.
- Then you can get involved in the conversation by responding to harsh criticisms and thanking advocates across hundreds of platforms on the web. These small actions of goodwill can have a massive ripple effect across the web.
4. Social Marketing
Give campaign managers the gift of complete control over the social media accounts of the party or person they represent. Social marketing is the all-in-one composer and scheduler for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Google My Business (GMB).
With this tool at their backs, campaign managers can ensure that every post is perfectly timed and perfectly placed. Furthermore, Social Marketing generates a stream of related content so that your political clients can be constantly interacting with supporters and the communities around them.
When your consumer market changes, marketers must adopt, and politics is no exception. With Vendasta, you have the tools you need to offer high impact digital media tools to campaign managers that need to connect with younger demographics and have the resources needed to do so.