Here’s something that isn’t being talked about on Fox, CNN or MSNBC. Digital advertising, big data and retargeting have been key factors in winning the last several elections, including the most recent one.
Like it or not, traditional media is going the way of the dinosaur. Modern technology allows people to connect and consume information anywhere on handheld devices. It is now standard practice for the average person to browse the web, post on social media and watch TV shows & movies, all on their mobile devices. This gives marketers and political consultants a huge amount of personalization and targeting power. Make no mistake, this is a power can be used to make kings by those who wield it… Is this starting to sound like the opening to an episode of “Game of Thrones?”
President Obama had a top notch digital team and strategy. He was able to comfortably win in both 2008 and 2012 with the help of top notch digital talent. The Obama campaign employed a lot of young, intelligent and talented people. These people understood the digital landscape and how to leverage technology to micro-target voters across the country. By using modern digital advertising tools and data sets, they were able to target very specific political messaging to individual voters in different voting districts.
The campaign also utilized a numerical scoring system for ranking voters. This system was created to gauge how likely a person was to vote and what types of issues would influence their decision. Armed with this information Obama’s digital marketing team could show these voters highly targeted ads that spoke to their politics. You can read the full story here.
This new digital ecosystem allowed Obama’s team to rely heavily on forms of micro-targeting enabled by the digital advertising ecosystem. This network of DSP’s, exchanges and data providers has been used by digital brand marketers since the early 2000’s but was foreign to politics. Political consultants can now match up voter registration info with online data points. Some examples being – what a person reads, buys, where they get their news online, etc. Paring this data with voter registration roles allows political campaigns to show invidvidual voters ads with specific messages that have been directly tailored to appeal to their views.
Jim Walsh of DSPolitical said the company has so far aggregated more than 600 million cookies — or tags on Internet user IP addresses that track movements online — and has worked to match them against lists of some 250 million voters in the United States.This all is aimed at helping them determine how someone might vote and then reaching them wherever they go online.
This report from Bloomberg in July 2016 outlines the details of Donald Trump’s campaign spending more than $8 million dollars on digital marketing around this time. Clinton’s team by comparison spent only a fraction of that amount, somewhere around $132,000.
Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale runs a small firm in Texas, Giles – Parscale. Parscale was initially employed by Trump for website design. As a result of that relationship Parscale was tapped to manage the campaign’s digital marketing efforts. He says the majority of the money given to the firm by the Trump campaign was used to pay for advertising costs.
Around Sept. as the election was entering it’s final 60 days, Trump was spending $40 million plus on digital advertising efforts. Sources close to the campaign say they spent heavily on Facebook & Twitter. In another surprisingly deft move the Trump campaign also utilized Internet radio through the “I Heart Radio” app. It’s not clear how much of their strategy involved the type of micro-targeting Obama’s team used but they clearly invested heavily in digital marketing efforts – and it paid off.
In researching the Clinton team’s digital approach I found no evidence of a digital targeting strategy to match what Obama’s team had in 2008 and 2012. Most of the headlines read “Clinton Reserves Digital Ad Time” which sounds like a traditional TV ad blitz but through digital channels.
It also looks as if Hillary’s campaign only made a really big push towards digital advertising near the end of the election. Their goal with this push was not to target policy messages to voters but instead to “appeal to millennials.” who we all know use social media… Am I right old people?
While millenials definitely use the internet, so does everyone else in 2016. It was short sighted to focus only on millenials when using digital media and the detailed methods of targeting it offers.
Instead of mirroring Obama’s intense data driven approach, the Clinton team relied heavily on celebrity endorsements and a big media blast that ran on YouTube and other digital platforms. These ads primarily focused on controversial statements made by Donald Trump rather than pushing detailed political messages to different voters with different views depending on the parts of the country they live in.
This season neither candidate had a targeting strategy that rivaled what Obama had. Unfortunately for Clinton, Trump’s digital strategy was strong enough that simply throwing money at YouTube near the end of the campaign did not produce the results needed for her to take the white house.
It’s evident that from here on out anyone with political aspirations is going to need to have a great digital marketing team and strategy if they intend to win!
You’ve established your online presence. You have a great website, several social media pages and a well positioned digital brand. Now it’s time to set some goals and layout a plan to achieve them.
Your goal is going to change depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you are a blog that specializes in news the goal is going to be driving page views, maybe subscriptions, etc. The end game in this situation is developing a large audience that will facilitate advertising dollars. On the other hand, if you’re trying to sell handmade jewelry through an e-commerce site your goal is not sheer volume of audience but audience that’s looking to buy handmade jewelry. As you can see the nature of your goals are variable based on what you want to accomplish.
We borrowed this graphic from a Google training deck because it’s the perfect summation of most online business models. Take a look at this chart and find the one that most closely matches what you are doing.
One of the things we run into quite frequently is unrealistic CPA goals. As an example, if you’re a doctor or a lawyer the price of clicks and leads is going to be higher for your service than say, someone selling a toaster. The reason for this is that the cost of the product or service is so much different and the pay off for converting a legal lead is much higher than it is for selling a $20 dollar toaster.
Still a lot of people will come to us and say “Hey I want to get leads for less than $1.00!” – And while this is possible, the old addage: “you get what you pay” for holds true in digital advertising. I would seriously question the quality of leads for under $1.00.
So how can you vet the price of leads? Well Google AdWords is a great start and there are plenty of documented benchmarks for different industries. You can even use Google’s pricing to keep other vendors honest. The industry averages in Google should be relatively similar for most, if they are not I would do some digging.
One of my favorite sources of industry benchmark information is WordStream. Here are their benchmarks on Cost Per Action:
So how do you calculate your ad budget or your “Cost Per Acquisition” using this information? In order to keep it neat – We’ve put the steps into a numbered list for you, this is the step by step process we would use to find a good starting CPA goal.
Google offers everyone it’s basic analytics service for free. Attached to that is Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). Search console shows you first hand what keywords you’re ranking for in organic search as well as which ones are getting you traffic. The value of this tool cannot be overstated and it’s not incredibly difficult to set up and manage.
Analytics goes incredibly deep as well allowing you to create conversion events on your website and track users paths to those events. This can show you where you’re getting the most and best performing traffic from so that you can focus on developing those sources further. It has several other invaluable features as well, the ability to release site maps being an example.
If you build a solid plan with realistic goals and follow through with it you will see results. The quality and magnitude of those results depend on a multitude of variables, but that’s the fun part. Once you have the goals in place you can begin to look at data and make adjustments that will help you to yield the most from your efforts.
There’s been a lot of buzz around programmatic advertising over the past 3 – 4 years. But what exactly is programmatic advertising? The simple definition is that it is an automated method of buying, selling or fulfilling advertising. Apparently it’s caught on because it already makes up more than half of US digital display advertising spend.
Aside from just simple banner advertising, programmatic has begun to rapidly expand in areas such as video and mobile.
A few years ago if a digital media buyer wanted to run a branded display campaign they would go to an ad network that had tags running on a long list of websites. The buyer would usually procure a list of these sites and pay a CPM (Cost Per Mille or Cost Per 1,000 views to be accurate) to run their advertising on these sites.
But nowadays buyers are purchasing by the impression. What this means is that CPM’s have increased but rather than buying bulk page views, advertisers are now able to buy large targeted data-sets through programmatic exchanges.
It’s quite simple, many ad networks already run tags on thousands of publisher exchanges. These ad networks sell this inventory through programmatic vendors that in turn buy and sell these impressions in a real time auction to the highest bidder. It sounds complicated, but it’s a simple auction just like one you would go to in order to get art or antiques. The difference is that these auctions happen in fractions of a second via programmatic DSP’s or Demand Side Platforms. Just like at a regular auction the winner of these light speed auctions gets their ad shown to the user.
Based on recent data compiled by AdRoll. Last year, the bulk of US marketers, (62%), automated 10% to 50% of their digital advertising budget. Just about one third of those marketers also said they invested 50% or more of their digital ad budgets programmatically, up from 7% in 2013.
Programmatic is visibly efficient. All data points to this fact. This method of advertising has an unmatched ability to pair audience data with digital content to target the right users with the right message at the right time. This has made digital media buying more cost effective and improved the amount of spend for web publishers.
While programmatic advertising still has issues related to fraud and viewability (cross-device visibility has been an issue) there is a healthy conversation being had about them. The current benefits of these ad buys also far outweigh the risks if you’re a brand or business looking to really get yourself in front of a highly targeted audience demographic online.
Whatever the case, keep an eye on programmatic to keep evolving and improving in the weeks and months to come.