Inside View of Franken's Online Ad Efforts

  |  February 4, 2009   |  Comments

Probable Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has yet to take his seat as an election recount drags on

ClickZ_Campaign08_katefinal.jpgProbable Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, has yet to take his seat as an election recount drags on. But that doesn't mean we can't get an insider's view of how online advertising helped him (probably) win the close election.

A story in Campaigns and Elections comes straight from the source: Josh Koster, managing partner of D.C.-based digital ad firm Chong Designs, which handled digital advertising for Franken's campaign.

From the looks of it, the campaign focused on targeting of niche audiences through search and display ads.

People don't go to one place, looking for one thing. Their whims take them to a million places. The trick is to be everywhere, with tightly targeted messages. It's about showing them highly relevant factoids/ads tailored to the whim they're currently indulging, which if clicked, will redirect them to a relevant part of your website or related off-site content. In short, long-tail nanotargeting takes those little gems--be it an endorsement, video, news story, or ask--and shows it to the people who would care. To this end, we ran more than 30 million impressions for the Franken campaign across five horizontal ad networks, two vertical networks and dozens of local news outlets.

And the messages were tailored to those specific audiences. For instance, when the campaign targeted farmers using keywords such as "farm supply" and "feed stores," the ads would speak directly to them: "Read Al Franken's position paper on agriculture." I corresponded with Koster yesterday to get a little extra info not included in the story.

He goes on to quantify the campaign's online ad spending, what they did with the money, and what results they got.
We nanotargeted more than 125 niche groups, with more than 1,000 pieces of creative, for less than $100,000. On Google alone, an acquisition budget of less than $20,000 got us more than 20,000 clicks, 5,500 active e-mail sign- ups, and more than 2,500 donors. We were able to reach persuasion niches (this is akin to someone opening up and reading a mail piece) for a fraction of a penny per impression, and less than 50 cents per interaction.

When it came to what Koster calls "micro-messaging," I have to say his takeaway bums me out considering the state of the newspaper industry: "Finally, if we had it to do over again, we would have spent more on Google and Facebook and much less on local newspaper placements."
Perhaps local news sites can learn something from this as the 2010 elections could have a significant positive or negative impact on their bottom lines depending on what they offer political advertisers.

In October, I wrote about how the Republican National Committee attacked Franken in an online ad effort, deeming him an off-color humorist unfit to take the seat of his incumbent opponent Republican Senator Norm Coleman.





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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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