In this past 2008 election cycle, Campaigngrid (Grid) had the privilege to work on 26 national political campaigns. Grid created and implemented paid search and display advertising campaigns for 8 incumbent US Congressmen, one US Senate Candidate and one Gubernatorial candidate for the Republican Governors Association. We also executed 15 paid search campaigns for US Senate candidates on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
In a year dominated by the Presidential campaign and the success of the Obama internet strategy, the GOP had some good news of its own. 7 of our 8 incumbent Republican Congressional clients were re-elected, and the internet proved to be a key component of their successful campaigns.
The advertising done on the Campaigngrid ad network drove 90 percent or more of the traffic to all of our client's websites. We served more than 200 million ad impressions on thousands of long tail sites. Our solution proved that Congressional campaigns can re-coupe a large amount of its advertising expenditure from new online donors. In several cases online fund raising exceeded ad expenditures. Through this effort we amassed micro-targeting data relating to the best sites on the web to reach donors, volunteers and all three types of voters, republicans, democrats and swing voters.
Many campaigns successfully re-distributed television commercials online, using clever targeting and multiple types of site placements. Grid used Rich Media Video Ads and Pre-Roll Video ads as well as drove traffic from paid search and banner ads to YouTube. For each campaign, we generated thousands of YouTube views. Grid proved video messaging will be a key focal point of future campaigns.
Grid’s candidates were pleased that the Internet proved to be their most cost effective advertising medium, far surpassing direct mail and television. It was also the only advertising medium with complete transparency. The success or failure of ad campaigns was known in real time. Every Campaign had a dashboard where they could monitor the number of citizens who saw its ads, the number of click thrus from the ads and which sites or key words attracted these citizens. They also had a running tally of how many emails were captured and how much money was raised.
Our role in the Campaigns consisted of coordinating and driving all of its online advertising. To be successful we advised on website design and donation form structure and ensured analytics were deployed on all websites. Grid created issue based landing pages for all ad campaigns that featured videos on the issues from the Congressmen and all landing pages included email capture, volunteer sign up, and/or donor solicitation. Grid also designed social media pages on sites such as Facebook and YouTube, and made sure emails captured and donation information received integrated with the Campaign's database. In some cases, for our most progressive clients, we deployed Salesforce.com - a web based CRM solution that we customized for congressional campaigns (constituent relationship management).
The focus of the online advertising campaigns changed as the cycle progressed. Grid started each campaign by framing the candidates’ position on issues and experience. Grid targeted important coalitions, volunteers and donors in the early months. As time moved on, we focused on framing the competitor, finding more online donors, advertising offline fund raising events, and eventually voter registration and get out and vote. Every ad campaign focused on email list building and email proved to a very effective tool for fund raising.
One of our frustrations was discovered in our geographic targeted, issue-based paid search campaigns. We found ourselves competing against the Presidential candidates for key words and placement, as well as donors and email registrants. Instead of coordinating/ or co-oping the paid search ads, and thus sharing the republican supporters that responded to the advertising, we competed with the Presidential candidate and drove up the cost of the click thru's, diluting our effectiveness. In the next cycle, Grid hopes to help the GOP make sure this waste of money is not repeated.
All advertising campaigns were driven by very specific targeting rules, using the most advanced technologies available on thousands of sites on our proprietary ad network. Ad spends were allocated between paid search, display and video ads. Geographic targeting was employed across all campaigns. We delivered ads only within the voting districts of our candidates, as well as areas of the country where industries interested in financing our campaigns resided. Other tactics included contextual, behavioral, and site placement targeting.
The interactivity of the campaigns identified which issues were the most important to voters at different points in the cycle. This information was used to craft messages in the offline advertising such as direct mail, town hall phone calls and television. All of our campaigns advertised their web addresses in all of their offline media and on their yard signs.
According to Congressman Gerlach, "My on line advertising was perfectly targeted. I was able to communicate exactly the right message to exactly the right voters at exactly the right time, it was perfect.".....
Please have a look at the slide show above to see examples of the different targeting techniques we employed.