Commentary

How To Win The White House Using Online Advertising

While recent politics have been intoxicating, the candidates' online marketing efforts have been weak and at times, appalling. In an age of technological capabilities to get real messages, not simply advertisements, to the right person at the right time with a reasonable cost, why are our political campaigns so ineffective?

The reasons are an over reliance on YouTube and Facebook mini-sites, weak marketing creativity and an overall lack of sophistication in online advertising tools. Shockingly, studies show that voters don't actually know the candidates' positions on key issues and don't seek this information out on their own. The Internet is optimized to solve these problems and a consistent, committed online marketing effort would significantly impact swing state voters, undecided voters, voter registration, fundraising and volunteerism.

The following combined marketing efforts could win the White House. For this plan, consumers are divided into three buckets:

1. Swing State Voters: voters in the 24 battleground states including Ohio, Florida, etc.

2. Supporters: site visitors, YouTube page visitors or donors regardless of location

3. Other voters: voters outside the swing states

Here are some proposed campaign routes, targeted to capture the above-mentioned audience:

Issues Campaign

The candidate records two minute videos explaining his position on each key issue. In banner video ads are purchased and each heavily promotes one issue, while having the functionality to support many issues. Particular attention is paid to frequency capping, age targeting and creative performance. Target audience: swing state only.

Media Cycle Campaign

Each media cycle, large and small issues are raised. Getting in front of the story is key, so in this daily or bi-weekly campaign, the candidate presents his 30-second video response to the most current issues such as the government bailout or "lipstick on a pig." In banner video and pre-roll video ads are purchased. Target audience: swing state voters and campaign supporters.

Brand Campaign

Each candidate is a brand and should leverage the influencing efforts of television advertising campaigns. Online media plans and targeting should match identically to television media plans. Ads will most often be 30-second pre-roll video advertising units with. Target audience: swing state voters or other voters in key states.

Fundraising Campaign

Obama has shattered political fundraising records with nearly 2M donors. By targeting supporters, including prior donors, each candidate should have an ROI-positive direct response fundraising campaign asking for additional donations. Retargeting and DR media buying technologies are sophisticated and candidates could significantly increase fundraising. Target audience: supporters/prior donors.

"Get Out The Vote" Campaign

Every supporter who has been to the candidates' sites or YouTube pages, watched a video ad or clicked on a banner ad, should be inundated with "get out the vote" ads on election day and the preceding day. These ads promote going to the polls and provide tools to help get others out the vote. Target audience: swing state voters.

McCain Ideas

1. Leverage Favorability: McCain is viewed very favorable. People believe him when he speaks, so get his videos in wide distribution.

2. Push Sarah Palin: Interest in her remains high. In this scenario, online video ads will likely outperform all other candidates.

3. Steal The Hillary Vote: Sarah Palin ads should be targeted to women's interest sites and measure her impact on female voters.

Obama Ideas

1. Leverage Enthusiasm: Obama's enthusiasm ratings are off the charts. All ads should have viral "share with a friend" functionality.

2. Grassroots Efforts: Strong volunteerism has helped Obama. Allow users to embed these ads on their sites or create their own versions.

3. Voter Registration: The democratic base is growing and is a key element of his campaign. A DR-based registration campaign is a must.

What many people don't realize is that an effective online video advertising can reach more people every single day than any presidential debate reaches on television. Online video has fundamentally changed the online advertising landscape, combining site, sound and motion from television, with the accountability and optimization of the Internet. Combine this with the online video's 80% reach and you have the most powerful political advertising platform in the world.

Sound too good to be true? The entire above proposal would have an estimated cost of around $3M. To compare: each candidate spent over $5M on the Olympics, a non-targeted repurposing of the same 30-second spot. To win this November, candidates are going to have to become smarter markers.

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1 comment about "How To Win The White House Using Online Advertising".
  1. C B , January 8, 2009 at 2:55 p.m.

    Tod, perhaps Obama operatives should get in touch with you.