Stop Treating Digital Advertising Like Direct Mail

  Posted on Sep 27, 2017 by Patrick McGill

pinpointing your audience

For years the political digital advertising vendors sold consultants, campaign managers, and candidates on the idea that you could cookie match your voter file and advertise only to those specific voters.

This argument worked because we were all used to direct mail and phones where you had a voter file and could communicate with exactly those voters.

The problem with limiting yourself to this approach is that you’re talking to too few voters.  After you take your initial voter universe, then winnow it down with the match rate, you then have to find those voters online with enough repetition to cut through and persuade them.

It’s an uphill battle that takes a butter knife to a gun fight.

Campaigns need to stop treating digital like mail, and start treating it like broadcast TV where you know the chunk of persuadable voters you need to move in order to win and you need to hit them over the head with your message.

Step 1: Expand beyond deterministic matching.

All the matching methodologies that we use for linking your digital identity to the voter file fall into two buckets: deterministic and probabilistic.  While highly accurate, deterministic can struggle to scale.  Probabilistic is less precise but allows you to hit more of your target audience.

Step 2: Layer, layer, layer.

Don’t just rely on a programmatic option.  Add social (including Facebook and Instagram), consider connected TV options, and look at premium placements that can be demographic targeted so that you’re hitting your voters wherever they are online.

Change your paradigm on digital. You might be incurring some waste (but compared to broadcast TV this is small beans) but you’re expanding what % of your target universe you can hit.

Ask your digital consultant questions and make the decisions together on how much you’re willing to expand beyond deterministic matching in order to make sure you’re hitting your persuadable voters with enough media to move the needle.

Winning political campaigns and winning advocacy campaigns get neighbors talking to neighbors and have conversations about the future of their communities.  By treating digital more like broadcast TV and less like mail, you can you have a big enough impact with a large enough block of voters to help shape those conversations to really break through and change the hearts and minds of a community.

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