Geo-Targeted Ad Campaigns are the New Gold Standard for Local Politicians
For better or worse, political campaigning and digital advertising will forever be intrinsically linked together. Ever since the 2008 presidential election, it’s played an increasingly prominent role in national elections at every level of government. But digital marketing isn’t exclusively reserved for presidential campaigns. Geo-targeted ad campaigns are becoming the standard for local politicians as well.
The rise of digital and social advertising.
For the past few months, there’s been a lot of national coverage and discussion on the topic of Facebook advertising during the last presidential campaigning cycle — and most of it for the wrong reasons.
Russia’s alleged involvement in the 2016 election is an important topic with huge national implications, but what is intriguing is how the two major candidates — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — spent a combined $81 million of their campaign funding on geo-targeted ad campaigns.
When you look at the 2016 election campaign, there are two major takeaways in terms of digital advertising. For starters, The Washington Post suggests, “[Social media companies need] to adopt policy fixes that will reduce the likelihood of foreign agents advertising directly to Americans. These include restrictions on the use of foreign currency to buy political ads and voluntary transparency measures. Proposals to warn users before sharing false content from dubious sources are positive, too.”
The second takeaway is that geo-targeting works. While both candidates used Facebook, Trump arguably used it more effectively. In a 60 Minutes interview with CBS News, Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign’s digital director, said Facebook ad targeting played a major role in getting Trump into the White House.
As a candidate, Trump targeted very specific profiles with the messages they cared about.
“It was voters in the Rust Belt that cared about their roads being rebuilt, their highways, their bridges. They felt like the world was crumbling. So I started making ads that would show the bridge crumbling,” Parscale said. “You know, that’s microtargeting them. Because I can find the 1,500 people in one town that care about infrastructure. Now, that might be a voter that normally votes Democrat.”
Clinton likely had similar strategies in place, though nobody on her campaign team has been as outspoken on the topic.