With Election Day less than two weeks away, there still remains a large contingency of undecided voters. Many marketing channels are available to reach them, but what channel is going to be the most effective for candidates in terms of getting votes? Traditionally, television gets most of the budget during the entire election cycle. No doubt, TV is a powerful medium because of its reach and its ability to engage at an emotional level with pictures and sound. But are political media buyers missing a big opportunity by not utilizing the full resources of online video advertising? I think that presidential, gubernatorial, and ballot initiative campaigns can reach and engage swing voters in these final days at an even greater level via online video advertising because it allows for not only localized reach, but most importantly, it allows personalized reach.
Personalized messaging. The old adage is that all politics are local. The thinking here is that people in the same locale usually have the same concerns and issues. In some respects, this logic really isn’t flawed. However, in a world that grows smaller with ever increasing forms of communication, locale becomes less relevant.
Collectively, Americans want the best for our country. But, individually we each bring a unique perspective into the voting box. We are at different places in our lives and reside all over the country. Regardless of the fact that I live in Colorado, my concerns may be more in line with a steelworker in Pennsylvania, a mother in Idaho, or a tech executive in Silicon Valley, than with my neighbors. Therefore it may be more accurate to say that all politics are personal.
Online video advertising combines the best of TV advertising (the power of pictures and sound) with the best of interactive advertising. Video advertising enables political media buyers to combine context, locale and behavior with unique messaging. It may scare some people, but it is actually quite fascinating what can be done online from a targeting perspective. Reaching people based on their demographic profile (e.g. age, sex, education, etc.) is fairly standard. But now marketers can also target people based on intent and behavioral patterns such as what they’ve searched for, what sites they’ve visited, what they’ve done on those sites, and what they’ve purchased. It’s anonymous, but it’s powerful nonetheless.
For example, perhaps the Obama campaign knows that you’ve visited the Obama site and that you’ve checked out his plan for small businesses. He doesn’t know who you are, but he could tag you with a cookie, and retarget you on other sites with video pre-roll messages about how Obama will try to help small businesses.
From a targeting perspective the options are limitless. It’s important for political media planners to ensure that the messaging matches up with the target, though. It doesn’t have to be time consuming and costly to create variations of the ads that speak to different voters. Campaign managers can easily create ads using the same video, but change the voiceover. Or they can even just adjust the creative of the companion banner if changing the video is too cumbersome.
Damage control. Online video advertising can even be an effective tool in countering the negative and misleading messaging that has become a mainstay in today’s campaigns. News travel fast. Often campaign managers don’t have time to respond to the 24-hour news cycle with a TV ad. But online video advertising makes it possible to create and launch a campaign in minutes that combats negative news or smear tactics. A recent Veoh study concludes that video viewers are more engaged on the Internet than when watching their television sets. Campaign managers should capitalize on this, especially as the election cycle draws to a close and final assaults make their way in the news and in other forms of advertising.
Real-time feedback and real-time optimization. Campaign managers can not only launch video ad campaigns immediately, but they can also optimize ads in real-time. By taking into account video and banner click-through rates, the average viewing duration and cross-referencing those numbers with post-impression and post-click Web site activity (e.g. – donations), campaign managers can optimize each campaign to maximize effectiveness.
News spreads like wildfire with breaking news e-mails, blog posts, Twitter, social networking sites, and more. In most cases, it remains true that we have no power over how issues and candidates are presented in the news, but the power of online video advertising makes it possible for the candidates to speak one-on-one with the voters about issues that concern them.