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  • J. Hartwell / A. Kalafa / *


Are you prepared to go Digital First for your 2020 political campaign? We've created a 20-minute presentation (live or webinar - you choose) to show candidates the tools and strategies they need to be competitive in the digital political communications world of 2020. Here is an overview of the presentation.

Digital tools and approaches have changed tremendously since the simple websites and blogs of the early 2000’s. In 2008, gave volunteers a way to organize and connect. By 2012, the advent of “big data” was the foundation of today’s sophisticated voter databases like the VAN and other voter list services. In 2016 (for better or worse), targeted social media exploded. 2018 saw a refinement of targeting with the extensive use of text messaging, a more personalized medium. In 2020, we're expecting the widespread adoption of apps for "relational organizing."

Do you believe Facebook was responsible for getting Trump elected? According to Facebook's former advertising director Andrew Bosworth, Facebook did get Trump elected, but not for the reasons you may think. In fact, Bosworth calls Trump's social media campaign, the “single best digital ad campaign" he's ever seen. Their content was tailored and targeted to get an emotional response from viewers. And it's been reported that Trump spent $40 million on Facebook advertising in 2019 as a lead-in to the 2020 election year.

2016 was also a pivotal year for digital here in CT, where Republicans outspent Democrats 6-1 in State Senate and House races. While Hillary Clinton and Richard Blumenthal easily carried Connecticut state-wide, the Republicans flipped eight house seats and tied the senate in that same election. This could happen again in 2020.

Political campaigns can no longer ignore paid digital advertising. According to, last year digital advertising was set to make up over half of all ad spending in the U.S., growing to two-thirds by 2023. Why this shift? Because adults now spend more than six hours each day on digital. Who benefits? Google and Facebook, of course, the market leaders, with Amazon beginning to eat into their dominant share with their own ad placement service. From a political campaign perspective, Google and Facebook have recently taken different approaches (more on that later).

You need digital content that matches the audience profile and format of each of the different platforms where you want to share your message. Facebook is far and away the most important, with a growing senior audience that’s not easily reachable otherwise. Pinterest, while having a much smaller reach, is a great platform for targeting women. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is where many young people post their “stories”. And Snapchat, with 90% penetration of the under-25 crowd, is great for reaching those who might be away at school and need absentee ballots. What’s key is that your message is targeted to your specific audience, tailored to each platform, and also consistent across all platforms.

Your campaign needs video - lots of it! Viewers retain 95% of the information presented when they watch a well-produced video, compared to just 10% with text only.

And it needs to be optimized for mobile. In fact, in 2018, 90% of digital advertising spending was delivered to mobile devices.

But you only have three seconds to connect with viewers before they’ll scroll on by. So grab their attention quickly, and deliver your message in those first 10 seconds.

Especially on mobile, many viewers aren’t using audio, so clear subtitles are essential. And pay attention to the ending - at a minimum you need “paid for by...” on every ad. Your campaign could be penalized if you forget.

Great political graphics will really grab attention when they show up as banner ads and gifs. Like video, less is more. Keep the text bold and simple. These ads are great for a call to action. Donate to my campaign! Volunteer! Vote! Pick a single message and make sure viewers can click through to a landing page where they can take action.

Banner ads and Gifs can complement a paid video campaign or be used instead of video when funding is tight. Both production and distribution of these types of ads cost less than video.

Facebook/Instagram, Google/Youtube, and Twitter have all changed their political advertising policies for 2020. Facebook has instituted user authentication, while having an “anything goes” approach to content - facts and truth are not reasons for rejecting an ad. You can still upload a voter list to Facebook and have them match it to a like audience, but Google no longer allows this and limits targeting to age, gender and zip code.

Twitter and TikTok have banned paid political advertising, whileSnapchat has a friendly advertising policy that permits list-based advertising, and does not allow misleading or deceptive content.

Volunteers have been phone banking and door knocking for decades. Problem is, we’re now seeing contact rates in the single digits for these strategies. We also know that friends talking to friends is much more powerful than cold calling a list, and that an email or a social media post from a friend is much more likely to be read.

There are a host of new apps that offer tools to empower volunteers, encourage them to move up the “ladder of engagement”, and bring others along with them.

Relational organizing is about creating community, which means meeting people where they are - online, on their phones, where they gather. There’s no silver bullet, but these apps should help boost your organization’s success rate.

You know how to use voter lists like the VAN for direct mail, phone banking, and door knocking, but did you know that they can also be used to place digital ads on the home computers and cell phones of your target audience? We can match most residential addresses to their home wifi's and then target any connected device on that system with banner ads and video. This is similar to what you can do with Facebook and Instagram, with one big difference. We can tell you who was successfully matched, and who wasn’t, so you can save money by reducing direct mail to those you've reached digitally, while increasing your traditional outreach to the unmatched group.

Your budget is tight, and you need a digital strategy that won’t break the bank. The VAN list is great for defining voter segments, and activating those segments with ads at different phases of the campaign. Reach out to your deepest blue supporters for fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Target persuadable voters with testimonials and issue videos. Rally those Dems who don’t always make it to the polls when it’s time to Get Out the Vote.

Get ahead of the curve with a roadmap for your media rollout. A compelling announcement or fundraising video will get the ball moving fast.

Within a week of launching her announcement video in January, Julie Kushner raised all the funding she needed for her first state senate bid. It’s never too early or too often to post video on social media. We offer state legislature campaign packages that include an array of video and banner ads for social media, as well as 15 second pre-roll ads for youtube. We also provide digital marketing services that target exactly the audience you need for all your digital content.

Please leave you comments and get in touch with us for a free consultation!

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