Political campaigns may be spending millions more every cycle on radio and television advertising, but it may be the candidate who invests more in the digital game who has the advantage heading into 2016.
"The next step for campaigns is to effectively incorporate these various platforms into a cohesive strategy. It can't be an afterthought. That isn't enough anymore.
"Campaigns will need to invest in the talent to do the back-end work to integrate these platforms," says Betsy Hoover, the founding partner at 270 Strategies and former digital organizing director for President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign, in a recent op-ed in The Hill
Having a strong and aggressive digital advertising campaign played a key role in Scott Walker's successful re-election campaign in 2014, according to a Google case study obtained by The Wall Street Journal
"Engaging with voters early on Google's various advertising platforms allowed us to reach voters when they were looking for information on Governor Walker's vision and policies. Being able to provide the specific piece of information that a voter was looking for, at that exact moment in time, allowed us to clearly define the Wisconsin Comeback," said Walker campaign manager Stephan Thompson in the analysis.
"That's the kind of thing that makes a difference on the margins. Little things add up," Matt Oczkowski, who served as Walker's digital director in 2014, told The Wall Street Journal
According to the case study, the campaign initiated a "branded" search advertising effort in February, which allowed it to get a jump on building a supporter list to be used for collecting high-value donations and later in the campaign as a tool to reach out to voters.
The Walker campaign also effectively used data in its outreach to key audiences and "persuadable" voters and "leveraged their own psychographic and geographic profiles and their Google partnership to develop consistent, comprehensive targeting" in the final three months of the campaign.
"As 28 percent of persuadable voters have watched an online video from a candidate or visited a candidate's channel on YouTube, in-stream ads offered the campaign a scalable and powerful way to extend the reach of its existing TV ads," said the report.
As more Americans are getting their information from online sources and streaming services, spending on digital advertising is likely to grow in 2016.
According to Borrell Associates
, a research firm which monitors advertising trends, candidates and parties spent a relatively small amount — $25 million in the 2012 presidential election, but can be expected to spend 10 times that amount in the 2016 campaign.
Online political advertising, according to Reuters
, might quadruple to nearly $1 billion in the next presidential cycle as more campaigns "micro-target likely voters" with advertisements on specific issues.
In fact, taking from one of the lessons learned from her 2008 loss to Obama in the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton is building a larger digital campaign staff and drawing some of the president's former aides into her campaign, according to The New York Times
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