Raconteur Media is honored to walk away with four 2020 Pollie Awards from the Association of Political Consultants’ (AAPC). We received a Pollie for our sophisticated blend of digital advertising for client Dr. Anna Allred. We sat down with our Sr. Digital Director, Joseph Resta, and unpacked what it took to build this successful digital strategy.
Dr. Anna Allred had never run for office. She was running in a special election for a vacated House seat and was one of six candidates. Four of the six had already run campaigns in the district and were familiar names to the voters. What tactics were used to increase Allred’s name recognition among Republican voters before the special election?
“Like all winning campaign strategies, we started by identifying the best audience for our campaign to focus on. By targeting advertising towards likely primary voters who were susceptible to our message, we were able to ensure the campaign’s limited budget would reach its maximum potential. After working with our data and polling partners, we created ads that not only highlighted Dr. Allred’s strongest stances on important issues but also focused on driving home her name ID. Through our creative department, we made sure her logo placement on all advertisements was predominant, so voters would not only focus on her stances but on her name, as well. This tactic is especially critical in primary election fields that are crowded candidates promoting similar issues. Once we were confident in the creative we had produced, we purchased ad space that was most visible to the target audience. We knew what platforms our audience spent the most time on, and we drove focus in those spaces. Again, making sure every dollar of our client’s budget gets spent in the most efficient and effective way.”
In this campaign, Raconteur helped Allred reach an audience of 10,000 voters at an average of 50 times per voter. All the voters in her target audience were reached. What was the strategy behind identifying the target audience?
“The campaign was fortunately ready to get started early. While getting a head start is significantly better than starting late, it does present a few obstacles. It can start to stretch the monthly ad budget pretty thin, and a thin budget doesn’t allow you to get the desired results in terms of frequency. Also, it’s possible to over saturate your audience to a point that they can start to “shrug off” the messages you are sending them. This usually occurs towards the end of the campaign, which is the last time you want to lose your audience’s attention. So for Dr. Allred, we started by focusing on an audience of people that could be classified as “very politically active”. These are people who are typically dialed in the political process, maybe leaders in local party factions and do not really risk in terms of alienation through oversaturation. By focusing on these voters early, you can hopefully win your campaign some very valuable allies for when the campaign reaches full-steam. Campaigns the size of Dr. Allred’s do not have the budget to do the super sophisticated data modeling that you sometimes read about. So finding the exact sub-sect of voters who are most likely to choose her over her opponents is not an option. In this case, we use historical voter data to best build an audience of voters who are most likely to vote in a special election in that district. We then focus on targeting that audience with boat persuasion and GOTV messages down the stretch. Budget is the main driving force of deciding what audience you are able to target, so we had to identify voters within the Likely Voter audiences who were most valuable, in order to create an audience we could afford to target at the optimal frequency.”
For video advertising, Raconteur used a combination of platforms to deliver video on social media and through streaming content platforms. What was the decision behind utilizing these platforms instead of traditional TV advertising?
“The campaign wanted to introduce Dr. Allred to the district through video ads. We knew the campaign’s budget situation, so while we knew they could afford to run video advertising, we wanted to make sure that those dollars were spent in a way that would reach the audience in the most effective way possible.
At Raconteur Media, we have built a partnership with a firm that created software that uses public data to help us better understand our target audience. Using this technology we are able to get insights to our audience’s consumer habits. Using this data paired with our knowledge of inventory pricing for TV, Social media, PreRoll, and Connected TV advertising allows us to create a video budget that builds the most cost-effective plan based on our audience’s screen preferences.
Traditionally, campaigns have separate TV and digital buys for video content. This software allows us to optimize a budget across all devices. When looking at Dr. Allred’s district, we saw that our targets spent more time watching broadcast/cable, but also consumed more digital content than the national average. Traditional TV buys were going to be expensive because her district is within the Houston Media Market, you’ll also see a lot of waste by advertising to non-target within the media market. Our software allowed us to run our TV videos at much lower costs, with zero waste, to our targets on digital platforms.”
What was the planning behind your budget development for this campaign?
“Dialogue between a digital team and the campaign is so important when it comes to budget development. A digital advertising budget needs to work both politically and financially. For example, if a campaign asks for a budget based on targeting an audience of 500,000 voters, we would return a budget suggestion nearing $1 million; which is way outside the realm of possibility for the majority of campaigns. We build campaigns that either revolve around the size of an audience or the ballpark budget figure the campaign provides. We would never produce a budget that suggests reach and frequency totals that we believe would be ineffective, so an understanding between us and the campaign eliminates the back and forth. Dr. Allred’s campaign provided us a budget total that we were able to spend, and we built a budget that highlights how many voters we could target effectively for that amount. Luckily, our numbers matched the campaign’s in terms of the desired audience size. We built Dr. Allred’s campaign budget out by week so the weekly totals would best reflect the political timing of the special election. We began by targeting our Politically Active Audience with Name Id/Persuasion ads before expanding into our core audience of Likely Voters. In the week before Early Voting, we began running our Name Id/Persuasion campaign video ads. We started these towards the end of the campaign because these video views are much more valuable right before voters head to the polls. We ran heavy Early Voting Awareness ads, driving voters to a page that informed them of EV polling locations and schedule. We knew our audience would vote early at a high rate, so we concentrated most of our remaining budget on reaching these voters right before and on the early days of Early Voting.”