Innovating in State Legislative Races

  Posted on Apr 13, 2018 by Dan Pino

In 2017, New Jersey’s 3rd Legislative District was the most expensive state legislative race in American history with over $20 million spent from both sides of the aisle.

Senate President Steve Sweeney was seeking re-election, and his adversaries were strange bedfellows of the Republican candidate, Fran Grenier, a prominent statewide union.

Legislative District 3 is located in the expensive Philadelphia media market, and both sides of the election were flooding the airwaves with endless TV ads. Better Education for New Jersey Kids and New Jerseyans for a Better Tomorrow, two groups supporting Sweeney, worked with Blueprint to develop and implement digital ads promoting Sweeney and attacking Grenier.

Due to the nature of the campaign, our digital campaign was able to try, and test new tactics not previously used in state legislative races -- most notably Facebook In-Stream video ads, and ConnectedTV video ads.

By running on Connected TV it allowed us to reach voters through a new placement that back in 2016 had difficulty scaling, but by 2017 had reached higher adoption rates and maturity on the ad tech side. In 2017, there was a marked increase in inventory, and a much larger subset of voters using Rokus and SmartTVs that had apps with available ads that we could buy programmatically.

In an expensive digital ad war in NJ-3, we had to look for innovative placements that our opponents would likely not be placing ads on, and Connected TV was one of those places. These ads performed great in a small geographic area (surprising us after our attempts at Connected TV in 2016 had difficulty spending even on a statewide scale).

While these ads did not have the scale and reach of Facebook newsfeed ads or typical pre-roll ads, they delivered extremely high completion rates -- ensuring that our message was fully delivered to our audience.

The Facebook In-stream ads had completion rates of over 95%, while the ConnectedTV ads had 99% completion rates -- percentages nearly unheard of for digital video.

In addition to utilizing these tactics, our creative was uniquely suited for these types of placements.

Tracker footage of Fran Grenier was available on social channels that we were able to utilize for our campaign. This included video of Grenier shoving his hand into the lens of the camera, giving us footage that allowed us to say Grenier wasn’t interested in talking about “X” subject.

Additional footage showed Grenier expressing his opposition to Democratic bedrocks like minimum wage, and paid family leave.

This footage was invaluable and gave us multiple creatives to use throughout the campaign, particularly utilizing the in-stream placement on Facebook.

These ads generated hundreds of thousands of views in the extremely crowded paid communications market for LD-3, and undoubtedly helped propel Steve Sweeney to victory.

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