In the immediate aftermath of the 2012 presidential campaign – like any campaign – two things happened: the winners went to bragging and the losers started pointing fingers. One thing became clear. Obama for America’s digital, technology, and analytics teams were indispensable in securing the president’s reelection.
The Cave is what OFA called the windowless room that housed their analytics team. Like digital in 2008, analytics came of age in the 2012 campaign. OFA’s analytics team had 50 staffers. By comparison, the Romney-Ryan campaign had a data team of 4 people.
Veterans of OFA have been surprisingly forthcoming in providing details on how they leveraged the latest in technology and digital strategy to make their campaign as effective and efficient as possible.
In 2016, Republicans can’t afford to fight the battles of 2012. We have to look forward to the future and start preparing now.
The MTV Movie Awards is one of the most anticipated events of the year for MTV’s young audience. It’s an awards show for the movies that don’t necessarily get equal recognition at more prestigious awards shows like the Oscars. Actors from movies like Twilight and The Hunger Games win “Best Kiss” and “Dirtbag” awards in the shapes of movie popcorn instead of the famous gold Oscar statue.
MTV does a great job of engaging its young audience through social media. During this year’s movie awards, we looked to capitalize on this fact for Crossroads Generation with Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. We crafted our Promoted Tweets to match this audience and made sure to keep them relevant to what was happening during the awards show.
…received upwards of 15 to 20 retweets with total impressions higher than 50,000 unique Twitter users.
Throughout the night we were competing against huge brands like Bing to get our tweets noticed. But by customizing the content to the events during the show, we saw the highest engagement yet for XG and introduced our client’s message to a whole new audience.
With the average American spending more time online and on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, the amount of time spent watching TV is leveling off and more of that viewing is time-shifted through DVRs. For advertisers across all industries, this means capturing eyeballs online and on mobile as well as through TV.
The lessons learned by the Romney campaign have consequences for all “down ballot” races as well. A recent SAY: media report [PDF] found that nearly a third of all likely voters aren’t watching “live TV.” The same study also notes that 88% of DVR owners are regularly skipping commercials on the TV content they do watch.
And it’s not just young people who are watching more video content with DVRs or via the Web. 15% of likely voters age 45 and older report watching less “live TV.” The same age group is using their DVR 12% more and watching video online 13% more over last year alone.
For campaigns, this means you can no longer rely on TV alone to reach voters with your message. Any TV buy must be complemented with a digital campaign reinforcing a similar message. This also means you have to think of online ads as more than just direct response campaigns.
In the new “two screen” advertising campaigns — where targeted audiences see messaging on both their mobile device and their TV — persuasion is the name of the game. As I’ve mentioned before, determining the overall goal for an advertising campaign is a critical first step in determining how you’ll measure success.
Persuading voters is all about capturing their attention in the right places and enough times to establish the message. This means your advertising has to follow the eyeballs and with less attention paid to TV advertising, online and mobile ads have to become part of your overall strategy.
In digital advertising, the sophisticated metrics that give us real-time data on a campaign are a double-edged sword. On one hand, you know very quickly if your message is resonating and your landing page is converting. On the other hand, when you see performance metrics in real-time it can be easy to get distracted.
When launching a digital ad campaign, it’s essential that you have a clear sense of purpose at the outset. Am I advertising to drive sign-ups to my email list? Do I want to raise money? Are we trying to spread a message?
Once you’ve determined your purpose for a campaign, you can look at the metrics that will determine success.
There are three primary categories of metrics we look at when monitoring a campaign:
Reach is a measurement of how many people saw your ads. The key metric of reach is the impression. An impression is counted as any time your ad is served to a website — not necessarily how many times it was seen.
Engagement refers to whether a user interacts with your ad. For standard, display ad units, this is a click, but some ads like videos or expandables have more potential for engagement.
A conversion measures each time a user engages with your ad and completes a desired action, like a sign-up or donation.
If you’re hoping to spread a message, reach is the metric for you. If you want people to sign a petition, you’ll want to focus on conversions.
It’s critical that you decide – before your campaign – how you’re going to measure success. If you’re looking to increase awareness about an event, for example, you’ll want the greatest reach possible, but if, after a week, you become discouraged that your click-through-rate — an engagement metric — is lower than you’d like, you’ve missed the point.
Remember, your metric has to match your digital ad campaign’s purpose.
Quick question: when was the last time you saw an ad on Facebook that seemed so hilariously off-base from your interests that you remarked on it to your friends?
Probably recently. Facebook has conditioned us to expect ads that relate to our interests to the point where people are surprised when the ads aren’t relevant.
I, for one, am appreciative of our data-driven online advertising culture. Advertising is just a way for companies to communicate with consumers about products the company thinks they might find useful. Thanks to great innovation in the online advertising space, most ads you see online are individualized — by zip code, estimated income range, likely gender, or, most controversially, by what other websites you’ve visited or if you’ve recently visited a particular advertiser’s website.
The controversy about ad targeting in general has continued to be front and center this week, with an article in The Atlantic bemoaning the prevalence of targeted political ads on partisan websites as keeping “people within the boundaries of the things they once read and thoughts they once had.” But ad targeting isn’t perfect, and it’s quite possible to see non-conservative ads on conservative websites.
In fact, almost everyone’s jobs are reliant on the market (i.e., other people) finding value in the work their employer does, whether it’s Proctor and Gamble or a non-profit. If sales go up, the company will need to hire more employees or use more services/supplies to meet that demand. And if those organizations can reach out to people who could be interested in their “products” more efficiently — whether they make Febreze or raise money for children’s cancer research — we all benefit.
But to be sure that relevant ads are beneficial, let’s walk through two examples.
1) I see an ad for Lakers tickets. I don’t follow basketball or live in LA, so I don’t pay attention to this ad. I don’t click on it. I don’t get any value out of this ad.
2) I see an ad from Amazon.com advertising a book that has a high reader correlation with a book I’ve recently bought from Amazon. I click on the link, read the reviews, buy the book, and love it. I have benefited from seeing this ad. On top of that, it’s made an efficiency improvement in my life: rather than spending an hour or two at the bookstore and perhaps stumbling upon this book, I’ve bought it in a matter of maybe ten minutes and had it shipped to my house. (Putting aside the fact that I personally love meandering through bookstores, this ad has still made an improvement in utility over the other ad.)
Targeted advertising is also a major reason why we are able to enjoy a wealth of news, information and entertainment online free of charge. Never before have we all had such an enormous amount of content at our fingertips. But “free” content is never free, and if it comes at the cost of me (gasp!) seeing an ad for something I might like, that’s a trade-off I’m willing to make.
One of the newest features on Multiply, which powers the forms on all of our clients’ websites is the ability to store Urchin Traffic Monitor (UTM) codes, which allow a website’s owner to track where specific traffic is coming from within tools like Google Analytics.
For example, suppose an Engage client has a petition at example.com and I’m going to run a digital ad campaign to drive traffic to that petition. Rather than pointing all of my paid media to example.com, I want to track the specific traffic back to specific ads, so I use UTM codes, which look like this:
Now, each time a supporter visits the client’s site (or a specific landing page), I can know that the traffic came from my ad on DrudgeReport.com, it was a banner ad, the specific ad was a leaderboard, and this was for my example digital advertising campaign. The supporter will still be getting to the page they were advertised, but our client will know a little bit more about them.
Here’s where we at Engage take it to the next level. When the supporter converts and actually signs the petition, we then store that information with their record in the site’s database. What’s the point?
Any organization, whether it’s a political campaign or a major consumer brand, wants to know about the Return on Investment (ROI) of an ad campaign. It’s always easy to figure out the “I”, but the true “R” is harder to get at. Let’s go back to our example.com ad campaign.
Suppose we spend $10,000 to get 2,500 new email addresses. That works out to an investment of $4 per email address with almost no immediate return (immediate being the keyword here). Now, over the course of the next six months, let’s say that 25% of the new email addresses convert to donors with an average contribution of $40 each. That’s 625 donors at $40 a piece for a total of $25,000.
With Multiply’s sophisticated data tracking codes — all based on UTM codes — we now know that the ad campaign led to $25,000 in donations. Alternatively, we could have learned that the new supporters from our example ad campaign only donated $5,000, but the people who clicked on our ad on RedState.com were two times more likely to donate than the people who clicked on our ad at DrudgeReport.com.
Either way, we’ve learned very important information about the return on our investment. And, to quote, G.I. Joe, “Knowing is the half the battle.”