Online Ads in 2010: Research and Case Studies

Monday, March 21, 2011 | 11:15 AM

Every March, politicos from across the country meet for the “Pollie Awards,” an event hosted by the American Association of Political Consultants. Often referred to as the “Oscars of Political Advertising,” the awards recognize the most outstanding political ads and campaigns from the past election cycle.

Shortly after Election Day in November, we highlighted some major trends for politics online. Right now though, following the 20th annual Pollie Awards, it is time to dig a little deeper into what we learned in 2010 and share examples of the innovative tactics campaigns and issue groups used to deliver their message. Here are some key lessons we gleaned from research and case studies rooted in the last year’s election.

1. Even the Dean of the U.S. House or Representatives can learn some new tricks. When push came to shove in a tough election year Congressman John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress, turned to an aggressive online advertising campaign to help weather the electoral storm. Google produced a video case study featuring Congressman Dingell himself.

2. The power of the late online surges. George Gorton, a California-based political pollster, and Republican strategist Steven Moore, partnered with CampaignGrid to study the efficacy and impact of Campaign Grid’s online ad strategy for the Mike Prendergast campaign in the 11th congressional district in Florida. The Prendergast campaign targeted Republican men with a unique negative message not used in any other paid communications. Within that target audience, message recall jumped from 4% to 22% over the course of the eight-day display ad campaign. Additionally, Gorton and Moore tracked polls during the campaign to gauge the point at which the message really started to “sink in” to the target audience. The polling showed that 9.3 million targeted impressions over six days produced a seven percentage point increase (from 4% to 11%) among Republican men who could recall the message; it took an additional 5.3 million impressions over two days to double that number from 11% to 22%. You can read more about the study here.

3. Online advertising can sway statewide elections. Chong + Koster/ and SEA Polling and Strategic Design collaborated on a study measuring the effectiveness of the online advertising campaign for the “No on Amendment 8” campaign in Florida, a ballot measure which would change rules about classroom size. The “No on 8” campaign ran a very sophisticated online advertising blitz, driving their message with social ads, instream ads and a heavy display buy. Their online ads targeted just two large counties, Broward and Dade, which provided the winning margin. In fact, the margin between the two sides was 19 points higher for the region where the “No on 8” online campaign was targeted as compared to the rest of the state.You can read more about the study here.

4. Looking forward to 2012? There’s no bigger buzz phrase in presidential politics than “Swing State” and Ohio is as “swing” as they come. Google produced a video case study called “Battleground Ohio” which highlights all sides of the Ohio Governor’s race featuring senior advisers to Governor Kasich, and Former Governor Strickland. The cutting edge tactics employed online in Ohio last year, including new online video techniques and innovative communicating at scale tactics, give us a glimpse of what’s to come in key battleground states in 2012.

Conclusion. Between the increase in campaign activity online and the innovative tactics executed on the ground in the space this past cycle, there is a lot to look forward to for political new media. Online is no longer an experiment, but something with proven results that win elections. Google as well as the 2010 Pollie Awards celebrate the best of political campaign strategy.

Posted by Andrew Roos and Luke Rodehorst, Google Political Ads Strategists


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Anonymous said...

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the internet is a supremely powerful advertising tool. Number 3 in the list said "Online advertising can sway statewide elections."

Well, imagine if it didn't stop there. Imagine if ordinary people like you and me could vote using the internet.

Better yet, imagine if we all had an opportunity to vote directly on new legislation, giving 'we the people' the real power, as it should be.

That's what we, here at GovTogether, are trying to do. If you like the idea, visit our site and show your support with a vote.