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Voting booths at Hermosa Beach City Hall during California Primary. ?>
Voting booths at Hermosa Beach City Hall during California Primary.

Political Digital Digest: Inside MediaPost’s Marketing Politics Conference

Election year is such an incredibly exciting time. In the coming months, campaigns will hit a fever-pitch trying to reach every potential supporter, everywhere. Simultaneously, voters will narrow in on their preferred candidates. Which means those of us in digital media must rapidly develop smartly executed, integrated campaigns – ones that will earn the greatest ROI and ultimately, the most votes.

As the race continues, many an industry event is spent discussing the rising role of digital in the election. What’s the trajectory of spend? Do advanced targeting capabilities simply reach more voters or the right ones? And what about the incredible power of polling data and how to use it wisely?

MediaPost recently held their annual Marketing Politics event in Washington, D.C. The event focused on key strategic decisions political marketers will face in the coming months. I not only had the pleasure of attending this popular event, but of sitting on a discussion panel, too. Both on and off the stage, it was a day filled with incredibly astute and forward thinking discussions.

Here are 5 key points I took away from the event that I think will be valuable for you to consider during this election year:

  • Digital is playing a much larger role in the media mix for political campaigns this cycle. According to Tim Cameron from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the NRSC is encouraging their Senate campaigns in competitive states to devote 30-40% of budgets to digital in 2016, a substantial increase from previous cycles.
  • Digital must be connected across campaign functions. Integration isn’t just a buzzword. Today, digital media plays a key role in paid media, fundraising, as well as field and voter communications. In order for these components to fuel each step strategically, digital needs to be understood across the entire campaign organization.
  • Micro-targeting needs micro-messaging. Digital media tactics are advancing much faster than most creative teams are currently equipped (or funded) to handle. This creates a gap in capabilities that should be addressed immediately. Whether that’s finding the right digital partner or building a team of in-house experts, customized creative is critical.
  • Don’t over-target (just because you can, doesn’t mean you should). There is a lot of excitement around new capabilities in data-based targeting, but don’t let eagerness overshadow the need for a holistic strategy. Over-targeting will hamper the impact of your campaign. If you’re focusing all of your efforts on a matched file that represents 30-40% of your key voter segments, you’re missing 70% of the voters you need. Layering in additional (and varied) tactics to increase reach can boost the overall effectiveness and cost-efficiency of your digital efforts.
  • Don’t assume, test. Sometimes the targeting and optimization tactics that seem most obvious, like customizing messaging based on geographic areas or time of day, don’t have much (or any) positive impact, as shared by Caitlin Mitchell, VP of Digital at Emily’s List. The secret to success is continuous testing. This optimization strategy arms you with the insight you need in order to keep what’s working, properly refine messaging, and discard everything else.

For a closer look at the event, you can find the session videos here.

Each issue of Political Digital Digest brings you the latest news and developing stories about the innovative role digital media is playing in the 2106 election. Everything you need to know is right here, right now.