Political Advertising

Political Ad Targeting Gets More Sophisticated

Wall Street Journal: “The new technology borrows heavily from traditional targeting methods that use information about where a person lives, how they have voted and what products they buy to predict future political behavior, and combines that research with richer-than-ever data about what shows people watch and when they watch them.”

“The result, writ large, is revolutionizing the billion-dollar business of political advertising, with implications for those who buy and sell it.”

Politicians Release Wierd B-Roll Video

Huffington Post: “Political campaigns are not allowed to coordinate their efforts with the super PACs that nominally support them — or so they would have us believe, which we do not. So when a super PAC needs choice, clean, professional footage of the candidates they support but aren’t allowed to talk to, what’s it to do?”

“Well, in recent months, candidates have found an end-run around campaign finance law by posting strange videos of B-roll footage to the internet for super PACs to use. Of course, that means we can use it too, to make fun of the candidates, as we’ve done here with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who has a weird thing for standing alone in fields.”

Fox Blocks Quinn’s Ad

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) “wasted little time likening his Republican rival Bruce Rauner to one of pop culture’s most infamous rich guys: C. Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The Quinn campaign put a new web ad up making the unflattering comparison as the governor continues a class warfare theme against his general election foe. Quinn argues Rauner’s wealth leaves him out of touch with everyday people. The ad features snippets of Burns, the evil owner of Springfield’s nuclear power plant in the long-running animated series.”

But the ad quickly was blocked on YouTube with a message that reads “This video contains content from FOX, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Voters Not Watching TV

“Voters increasingly are ditching live television in favor of streaming shows and movies on their smartphones or tablets, according to new research commissioned by digital firms and shared with Politico — findings that suggest campaigns need to embrace new types of advertising to reach them.”

“The survey… indicates that reaching key voters — especially young people, independents and minorities — will require campaigns to think beyond the typical 30-second live TV ad.”

Crying Babies as Politicians

National Journal: “Political ad maker Fred Davis is back at it. The Republican adman, with an eye for the unusual and a penchant for the outlandish, has produced a web video casting the opponents of a Georgia Senate candidate as crying babies.”

“The video is just Davis’ latest entry in the category of offbeat political ads that have, over the last two decades, featured convicts in pink tutus, ‘demon sheep,’ a giant rat stomping across Georgia, Christine O’Donnell’s infamous claim that ‘I’m not a witch,’ and an Asian actress speaking broken English in a 2012 Michigan ad that was attacked as racist.”

Targeted Political Ads Come to TV

Washington Post: “Dish Network and DirecTV on Monday announced a plan to jointly give political advertisers the ability to microtarget their ads down to the household level. That means that any of over 20 million homes in the United States will soon start getting highly personalized campaign spots that were meant just for them.”

“Here’s how it works: While your set-top box is idle, it’ll tune into a channel that’s playing the ad you’re meant to see. It’ll record the ad using DVR, then insert it into your regular programming while you’re watching a show — replacing or bumping the ad that was supposed to air instead. This can be replicated for any household that subscribes to Dish or DirecTV, so a political strategist can pick you out and feed you a unique message.”

Candidate Endorses Construction Firm

Tom Emmer (R), who is seeking the GOP nomination in Minnesota’s 6th congressional district, has filmed an advertisement in which he touts his candidacy and endorses a construction firm.

Politics in Minnesota: “Former Federal Elections Commission general counsel Larry Noble said the possibility of the ad running afoul of campaign finance regulations would depend on the financial arrangements made between the candidate and the company. To his way of thinking, Emmer’s labeling himself a candidate for office and the appearance of the ‘Emmer for Congress’ sign mean the commercial should qualify as an advertisement for Emmer, and money spent on the ad should be disclosed as a campaign contribution.”

Obama Campaign Says Mobile Ads Worked

President Obama’s reelection campaign “spent millions on mobile ads that targeted down to the neighborhood level in battleground states,” Adweek reports.

The campaign claims “targeting on-the-go voters moved the needle, underscoring a 2012 that saw the mobile marketing space seemingly toddle towards significantly impacting the larger advertising world… Democratic operatives said they got click-through rates from 3 percent to 19.5 percent during the race’s crucial stretch run when Mitt Romney appeared to surge in late October and early November.”

The Decline of American Politics

John Ellis: “Roughly speaking, over $1 billion was spent this year on negative campaign commercials. Basically, every two years, the American political parties and their candidates tell the electorate that politics is a filthy, rotten, corrupt business filled with lying weasels and thieving scoundrels. Not surprisingly (and not without reason), the electorate increasingly believes that politics at the national level (and on down) is a cesspool.”

“Combined with a malignantly intrusive and increasingly reckless media, the net effect is to make any sensible person avoid political life at all costs. Talent goes elsewhere. The political system suffers. It’s bad and it’s getting worse. The quality of Congressional representation in Washington has declined precipitously.”

Voters Do Not Like Targeted Ads

A new study from the Annenberg School for Communication found that 86% of voters do not want political campaigns to match ads to their interests.

New York Times: “The results of the study come at a time when national and local political campaigns are steadily increasing their use of technology that traditional marketers use to tailor advertising. For political campaigns, the process is called microtargeting. Information about voters — like the charitable donations they make, the type of credit card they use and the Congressional district they live in — is combined with voter registration records, and the result allows campaigns to send certain types of messages to voters.”

Proving Which Campaign Ads are Most Effective

Sasha Issenberg notes that political campaigns used to guess which ads were most effective, but the Obama re-election campaign is trying to prove it using random tests.

“To those familiar with the campaign’s operations, such irregular efforts at paid communication are indicators of an experimental revolution underway at Obama’s Chicago headquarters. They reflect a commitment to using randomized trials… designed to track the impact of campaign messages as voters process them in the real world, instead of relying solely on artificial environments like focus groups and surveys.”