Because it can be targeted, because it can allow voters to respond immediately, and because it is in general a lower-cost tool than traditional advertising, digital ads are taking off in politics and are a larger and larger portion of a winning political campaign’s overall budget.
But be careful. You need to consider your “media mix”.
Here’s why. The challenge you are going to have using digital and social media is that in the best case scenario, you are not going to be able to reach about 40% of your audience. And that means you need to pair a strong digital and social media program with other ways to reach voters.
You can only reach 60% of the voters in most cases for some basic reasons. First, 10% of voters are not using the internet or social media regularly. But the main reasons are the challenges of matching and advertising “reach”. When you provide a list to match or use a list like one you would find on our product SpeakEasy Digital—not all the likely voters will match to that voter’s profile on the Internet. Simple math here—if you match 80% of the 90% of the voters on the Internet—that is 72% possible to reach best case. But typically, even a very strong online program can only reach up to 90% of the possible audience—and 90% of 72% is now under 65% of all voters. And these are generally best-case projections; it is perfectly likely that even the strongest digital program won’t reach 40% of the voters.
That’s too many voters to ignore—so all the best digital and social programs work in tandem with other campaign outreach efforts.
These other outreach efforts don’t need to be fancy and should start with the basics—like knocking on every relevant door and phoning every likely voter in your target universe.
But, more and more, digital media and direct mail work hand in glove. Part of the reason is that both of these tools are addressable in exactly the same way. If you are thinking about sending Democratic women under the age of 65 in very liberal precincts an online message about reproductive choice, you can and probably should make sure you send a similar message via direct mail to make sure you are both reinforcing the message and reaching everyone.
For more on how to build a digital strategy for your campaign, download the recently released e-book, 12 Must-Know Facts About Digital Media, by SpeakEasy Digital founders Eric Jaye and Danielle Winterhalter.