It’s August. Your campaign has spent the last year preparing for Election Day: building your donor list through acquisition ads, posting carefully curated organic social media content, and running never-ending email and SMS donation solicitations to your donor base. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, many campaign professionals are wondering how to structure their GOTV programs when significantly more voters will be voting early or voting by mail for the first time.
With this in mind, it’s time to focus on persuasion to bolster your bottom line: votes on Election Day that will spread out over weeks.
You know that most of your followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are already voting for you. Your donors and volunteers already have pledged their votes, too. So who’s left? The persuadables and those who might not be planning to vote, but could be convinced with enough prodding that 2020 is the year to turn out.
During the last three months of the campaign, it’s important to vary up your digital media plan to persuade your target audience to get out and vote. Here are three winning tactics to include in your media plan leading up to Election Day:
1. Connected Television
Connected Television (CTV) continues to be a great investment for digital campaigns who want to deliver broadcast quality ads at a digital price. As more and more people continue to binge more and more content on their smart TV’s month over month during the COVID-19 pandemic, CTV provides great non-skippable video options to an extremely captive audience.
CTV provides some of the best inventory options in order to micro-target segments of your voter list with campaign ads without any of the restrictions that some social media and streaming vendors have placed on political ads.
The best part? Audience targeting is endless. Want to target people based on their TV viewing behavior on their smart TV? You can do that. Want to target a specific subset of persuadables on a voter list you have? You can do that. Want to target people based on demographics, political ideology, behavior, or psychographic traits? You can do that too.
2. YouTube Bumper Ads
Already running YouTube TrueView ads but want to layer on top of that? YouTube Bumper Ads might be right for your media plan. Bumper ads are non-skippable and have to be 6 seconds or less.
Is your campaign already doing a video shoot for TV? Ask your production vendor to have the candidate stand face to camera and do a quick 6-second video shoot that can be used for bumper ads (and can also be later repurposed on social media.)
Election ads running on YouTube do have more restrictions on targeting than that of CTV, but they can be incredibly effective at getting a message across to a captive audience.
You should be covering your candidate’s name on Google Search already at this point in the election. But moving closer to Election Day, you need to expand your terms and invest more in Google Search. Why? If your ad is not the first result when someone Googles your candidate’s name, your opponent’s negative ads likely will. You always want to “own” your own terms as much as you can. Starting in October, campaigns should expand search terms to also include negative terms and election terms.
Let’s say your candidate “John Doe” is running for Congress in MO-05 and you’ve successfully had a 90 percent share of impressions this year on his name throughout the campaign — indicating that you’re beating out anyone else running on his terms.
Closer to the election you need to start bidding on terms and phrases such as “John Doe + Election,” “How to vote for John Doe,” or “Where is my polling place” and geo-restrict the ads to just MO-5. This will drive a significant amount of traffic to John Doe’s website where he can host a voting guide or polling place finder on his website.
Want to figure out what people are searching in your district around the election? Check out Google Trends – a free tool Google provides that allows you to discover what people are searching. Just make sure to change the filter to be just your area, not worldwide.
Lindsey Kolb is the VP of Digital Strategy at Rational 360 where she leads digital strategy and implementation for national public affairs clients, large advocacy organizations, and issue campaigns. She has deep experience running comprehensive omnichannel digital campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and national trade associations and at the highest level of Republican politics including top-tier campaigns nationally and statewide, national and statewide political committees, SuperPACs, and advocacy groups.