To win Missouri's open U.S. Senate seat, Republican Rep. Roy Blunt's Senate campaign knew they had to win over women voters. Through polling and research, the campaign recognized it had a chance of swaying women over 40 to Blunt's side, even though he was running against a woman, Missouri's Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. Persuasive online video ads played a key role in the cross-media effort to win them over, and in the end, Blunt won the race and won the vote among women.
"We focused like a laser beam on women over 40 years old," said Pete Snyder, CEO of New Media Strategies, the firm handing digital work for the Blunt campaign.
An in-stream video ad campaign allowed the agency and the Blunt team to better understand which messages resonated with women voters. For a two-week period in October, in-stream video ads were targeted to women throughout the state, accompanied by display ads linking to a women-centric microsite, WomenWinWithRoy.com.
Ads featured everyday women from across Missouri, each discussing one of four issues: healthcare, jobs, education, and national security. "The administration isn't doing enough in areas like private sector job creation; spending in Washington is out of control," Lisa Jobe, a resident of Jefferson City, MO, said in one ad.
Keri Martensen, a teacher from the northwestern city of Parkville, said she supported Blunt because he "knows what it takes to have a good education system because he was a teacher like me."
Unlike the wide majority of political campaigns and issue groups using video advertising during the 2010 cycle, the Blunt ads were made just for the web, rather than featuring repurposed TV spots or footage from a TV ad shoot.
"We worked in conjunction with messaging being put out on TV, but we knew we needed to provide customized [web content]," said Snyder. The videos about jobs and healthcare garnered the highest click-throughs. New Media Strategies also cross-referenced the online results with other polls. In all, the test involving 1.3 million impressions resulted in a 2 percent CTR, and cost around $10,000.
In addition to helping establish online advertising as a means of persuasion and a good forum for message testing among Blunt campaign staff, it allowed the digital firm to bolster credibility for allocating budget to the web - and more of it - later on in the cycle.
When it was time for the get-out-the-vote push in the final days, the digital team needed a bigger budget than originally anticipated, and their wish was granted. The last three days of the election season, the campaign aimed pre-roll video, display, and other online ads to all voters in two traditionally Democratic counties - St. Louis County and Jackson County - which include St. Louis and Kansas City.
In part, the campaign felt confident it would do well elsewhere and wanted to hit swing voters in those left-leaning counties. The ads drove voters to a page that featured a video and listed five things they could do to help drive the vote for Blunt, including "Liking" him on Facebook, sharing the link, and finding a nearby polling place.
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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.
March 19, 2014