2016: The Cross-Screen Connection Election

I Like Ike! This was the cornerstone slogan of soon-to-be President Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign. As one of the earliest and most effective election TV spots, it also launched the now-critical component of television advertising for any serious candidate.  

The 2008 Obama for America campaign was another trailblazer (and one we’re all old enough to remember!). This time, it embraced another changing media landscape — an always-on, cross-screen universe. According to a recent report from Pew Research: today, U.S. internet users get their political news from a mix of TV (45%), Internet (37%), radio (12%) and print (6%). The campaign was able to massively extend their audience by embracing social media channels and leveraging new data sources like set top box TV data. This contributed to a whole generation of new voters heading to the polls, and ultimately as we all know, a win for Obama. 

So, with less than half of people reporting a TV-bias, it no longer reigns supreme in election-time advertising.  It is still a critical medium, of course, but for optimal results, it must be considered as part of a whole. In other words, just like consumer goods or services, today’s viable candidates must connect with the voter, not just with their devices. 

Let me explain. Today’s voters have desktop and laptop computers, smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, connected-TVs and even internet-connect cars. And they’re using all of them, often simultaneously. Old-school advertising had no way of knowing which devices aligned with which users. So one person watching Jon Stewart on one device (must be a liberal!) and looking up Fox News videos on another (must be conservative!) would appear to be two different users, giving the marketer a fragmented, confusing and misleading view. Here are three pointers on taking your 2016 political campaign to the next level using the latest tech solutions:

1. Goodbye, “Spray and Pray”; Hello, “Connect and Affect.”

Over the last several years, marketing has become increasingly data-driven.

This is a move in the right direction; but until recently, it was largely based on desktop behavior alone. Without behavioral data from all screens, the view was incomplete.

Now you can say goodbye to the old “spray and pray” approach, and hello to “connect and affect.” Relevant, effective, privacy-safe campaigns can now be delivered across screens. With this unified approach, you can reach voters with the right message, wherever they are and on whatever device they’re using, and at the right time. If someone visits your candidate’s website, you can extend your campaign ad to connect on their smartphone or tablet.  

2. See TV’s Role

As I said before, TV is still a huge piece of the political campaign equation, but until recently, marketers struggled to incorporate it into their broader marketing strategy. It was considered an excellent channel for driving brand awareness, but there was no way to measure its concrete impact.

Using device-connecting solutions, this is now possible. Imagine showing a television ad, knowing that a potential voter watched it, then learning that the same viewer visited a candidate's website and downloaded an online video about their policy position. The impact of that initial TV ad is now clear and measurable, and so is your strategy and spend moving forward.

3. Distribute the Funds, Strategically

According to the AP, the 2012 presidential election cost more than $2 billion, with a large portion of that money going to advertising, according to Huffington Post. With this much money on the table, it’s essential to get the marketing mix right — reaching the best audience, with the right frequency, for the lowest total cost.

Measurement tools bring insight to what is and isn’t working in your marketing mix, allowing you to adjust in nearly real-time. Analytics tools show you what combination of ads best drives a result (like visiting a website or downloading an app) — they can even break it down regionally, making true personalization more possible than ever before. This increases engagement, saves money, and cuts the risk of annoying potential voters by showing them an ad too many times. Win-win-win, all contributing to a win for your candidate.

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