Hispanic-Heavy Swing States Drive High Mobile Ad Prices

Swing states with large Hispanic populations are generating higher mobile ad prices for political advertisers than other 2012 election battleground states. Though it’s not clear that the desire to reach Hispanic voters is driving up prices, the data from mobile ad firm Pontiflex suggests it could cost campaigns more to target mobile ads to them.

Political candidates and groups using the firm’s mobile signup ads are spending nearly $1 more per lead on average in Nevada and $2 more per lead on average in New Mexico, compared with average costs of the same types of ads targeting people in other swing states.

The battleground state prices, however, are highest in Montana, which has the smallest population of all the states measured, and where the Hispanic population is tiny in comparison to Nevada and New Mexico.

“The more populous a state is, the lower the cost per lead,” said Zephrin Lasker, co-founder and CEO of Pontiflex. “Though prices will go up in more sought-after states due to increased demand at some point in the future – as we get closer to the election – this has not happened yet,” he said.

Pontiflex serves ads in mobile apps that allow users to signup with campaigns by providing email addresses, names and Zip codes without leaving the app. The company charges advertisers when people signup via the app ads.

Rather than targeting ads to certain types of mobile apps, or based on demographic data, political advertisers mainly are targeting the Pontiflex ads geographically in the hopes of building their lists in key locales, said Lasker.

The company measured costs-per-lead for ads targeting people in 14 battleground states this election season: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Costs per lead were lowest in Virginia at $1.29 on average. The numbers rise incrementally, with prices hitting between $1.40 and $1.45 in Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin – where an important gubernatorial recall election is two weeks away.

The cost per signup leaps from there. In Nevada, where more than 26 percent of the population is Latino or Hispanic in origin according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the per-lead cost was $2.36 on average.

In New Mexico it was nearly a dollar more – $3.45 per signup. That state’s population is more than 46 percent Latino or Hispanic in origin. According to Pontiflex, mobile cost-per-lead was $3.84 on average in Montana, the highest among the battleground states the company measured. U.S. Census data from 2010 shows Montana with less than 3 percent Hispanic or Latino population, compared to the 16.3 percent U.S. average.

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When using ads to generate donations or signups, political campaigns measure online ad costs closely, weighing the amount donated or potential value of a supporter against the amount it cost to bring that person into the fold.

Along with advocacy groups, and the Democratic and Republican parties, President Barack Obama’s campaign – which Pontiflex said is running ads with them this election cycle – along with Mitt Romney’s campaign, are putting a lot of resources toward reaching Hispanic voters. It is not clear whether any of these campaigns or groups are using Pontiflex ads to specifically reach Hispanics.

“We’re working with candidates on both sides,” said Lasker.

Though both presidential campaigns are also doing digital and traditional ad messaging to sway Hispanics, they’re using tools such as the mobile signup ads to build lists of supporters in swing states and elsewhere who they can later tap to volunteer, help organize in local communities, and donate.

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