Learnings for the 2016 Campaigns

It’s less than 600 days until the 2016 election, but many campaigns are already assembling their digital strategy for next November. We wanted to showcase a few forward-thinking approaches from last year’s midterm election, so campaigns, committees, and agencies can incorporate these learnings into their 2016 plans.

Content for a digital audience
Though 2014 campaigns could reach specific voter audiences, many times, all groups saw the same repurposed television commercial and not a tailored message for the specific digital audience.

  • In her reelection race for South Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley and her agency IMGE, created and promoted a made-for-digital video called “Amanda’s Story,” which highlighted Governor Haley’s anti-bullying efforts. IMGE used TrueView ads to promote the video, targeting it to mothers with school-age children. Read More.
  • Similarly, in the various senatorial and congressional races where they were involved, the US Chamber of Commerce, with the help of the agency Revolution, ran TrueView ads to reach audiences that would be most persuaded by their video content. For Thom Tillis’s North Carolina Senate bid, the Chamber targeted users that were interested in NASCAR with a video of Richard Petty endorsing Tillis. Read More.

  • NextGen Climate Action Committee and Bully Pulpit Interactive used video ads to deliver the right message to the right audience, and they used custom surveys on YouTube to ensure that their message stuck. In key midterm statewide races, survey results confirmed that NextGen Climate's message resonated with the audience that viewed their ads. Read More.

Leveraging all of Google’s tools

There is a full suite of Google products that campaigns can use — Google.com Search, Google Display Network, YouTube reserve, YouTube TrueView, DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM). Here are some innovative way campaigns and agencies used and combined these core products in the 2014 midterm races.

  • To aid in Governor Dannel Malloy’s reelection campaign for Connecticut Governor, Connecticut Forward, an affiliate of the Democratic Governors Association, and Rising Tide Interactive efficiently used both YouTube reserve video ads and programmatic to easily pivot their video messaging to complement offline strategy. In expensive TV markets with heavy saturation, Connecticut Forward ran digital-specific video creative to reach audiences with a different message than what was airing on TV. Read More.

  • Throughout Scott Walker’s reelection race for Wisconsin Governor, his campaign followed the ROI. They adapted their search strategy once they noticed a high volume of out-of-state donations and to improve their targeting accuracy, they created mirror Google audience targeting profiles, based on their own psychographic profiles of Wisconsin voters. Read More.

  • From first squeal, Joni Ernst’s campaign and their agency Targeted Victory piggy-backed on the success of their video branding. They drove search traffic from Squeal-related keywords to campaign donation pages, and they created a remarketing list from users that interacted with the Squeal video on YouTube. Read More.
  • Now-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection bid for Kentucky Senate leveraged a combination of Google products, right up through Election Day. With the help of their agency Harris Media, McConnell’s campaign used custom mobile and desktop Get-Out-the-Vote (GOTV) units and magnified their GOTV efforts with a smart search and display strategy. Read More.
What 2016 holds

Online marketing was a ubiquitous part of 2014 election campaigns, and digital’s impact will continue to grow in the coming 2016 races. As campaigns and agencies continue to innovate in the political digital space, we’ll be here to highlight those advancements. Stay tuned!

Posted by Lauren Benson and Coco Pannell, Google Politics & Elections Ads Marketing