Content Marketing for Political Campaigns

In the age of Donald Trump, fake news & outside interference in our elections, getting your message out to the voting public is more important than ever. If you don’t put out an effective message, your opponent will for you.

The same tactics allegedly used by Russians to interfere with our election via bots, social media & “fake news” can be used by almost any organization at a relatively low cost. How do you fight back against these tactics? The old saying of “fighting fire with fire” is applicable in this situation. It’s a battle of messaging.

Highly Segmented Targeting & Messaging

The targeting options available to advertisers is unprecedented and only 10 years ago marketers dreamed of such highly segmented targeting. The level of detail available to political campaigns means that micro-messaging is possible.

When you’re doing TV advertising, there’s a huge amount of spillage, which is defined as targeting people who don’t fit your demographic but see your ad anyway. With online advertising, there’s little spillage that occurs. This means that micro-messaging is a powerful tactic to use for political campaigns.

When you’re confident that little spillage occurs and you can target highly segmented audiences, you change your creative to match that audience. As an example, if an organization is targeting Outdoorsmen between 25-45 in the state of Ohio, you serve creative that resonates with that target audience.

These strategies are content intensive but the reward is that the messaging resonates more with your audience which increases favorability ratings. When you push out one generic message to a broad swath of the American public it’s the lazy mans strategy to content marketing. It takes work to come up with the content for a hundred different niche audiences but the reward is so worth it.

The rule of thumb in digital marketing is: the more segmented you are, the better your results will be.

Keep that in mind when you’re in the trenches of creating all of this custom content and digital assets. The juice will be worth the squeeze.

The kind of content you create for one generic ad that you send out to everyone, looks entirely different than creating a hundred micro-messages. The latter will respond much better to personalized content rather than a generic campaign ad. Nobody loves generic campaign ads.

Can you imagine the power of targeting only Female political independents between the age of 25 & 64 with a net worth of 200k+? That’s the level of segmentation I’m talking about and that’s how you win a political campaign in the 21st century.

Advertising Platforms Political Campaigns Should Use

There’s so many digital platforms out there it can be dizzying deciding which ones to allocate time & money towards. Each platform has it’s own kinks, targeting capabilities & advertising formats. The more platforms in use, the more effective your message but also the more work it is to implement successfully.

Budget allocation & content creation among these platforms is not a rule of thumb. It depends on goals, budget, results & other variables.

YouTube¬†– This is the most popular video platform on the internet. It’s also the second largest search engine in the United States. It’s also where I notice the majority of the online political advertising. Most of the creative seems only geographic targeted and not interest/behavioral standpoint. This platform is a must for any video distribution.

Facebook/Instagram – This platform is unique for the variety of rich demographic/interest/behavioral data available to advertisers. Facebook owns Instagram which makes managing your advertising easier. The variety of ad formats, targeting & strategy available to advertisers as well as Facebooks algorithms makes this platform a must for any political campaign.

Twitter – Twitter has incredibly active political conversations happening 24/7. Many campaigns will get turned off by the “trollish” nature of Twitter. This platform has great targeting options, not as good as Facebook but it’s improving all the time. This is one of the best platforms for engaging with your core base of supporters.

LinkedIn – Want to engage with the business community? This is your platform. Whether you want to highlight pro business policy positions, raise money or generate awareness among an affluent demographic, LinkedIn is a great option. Ad formats are limited on this platform but they’ll be releasing sponsored videos in 2018 and that’ll help with messaging a lot.

Paid Search/Display – Google Adwords/Bing Ads/Yahoo Gemini are underused platforms for political campaigns. There’s a lot of neat plays for using Google Search Advertising to increase traffic & awareness. Using the Google Display Network and Yahoo Native Ads will give your message incredible scale across the internet and can be highly segmented by placement or behavioral data.

Organic Reddit – The largest message board on the internet obviously has a ton of users. There’s advertising options available on Reddit but an organic strategy seems best to me. The Ask Me Anything threads on Reddit are incredibly popular and it would be noteworthy to have someone running for office to let the public ask those questions. They’re a die hard community and if you get in good with them, that’s a strong base of support.

Organic Medium – Medium is a blogging platform that has a large audience of readers. These blogs can have wide readership and the platform ranks well within search engines. Taking the time to publish content on this platform is free and can generate a positive feeling among Medium readers for using the platform.

Deep Levels of Engagement on Online Ads

So many political campaigns spend 80% of their ad budgets on television/radio/billboard advertising and 20% to digital channels. That ratio should be reversed. It’s time to stop marketing like it’s the year 2000. The way people consume content & communicate has fundamentally shifted in the last 18 years.

Online advertising has significantly higher engagement rates than traditional advertising. Why? Because users not only see an ad but they can follow up with an action. If someone sees an ad and then clicks onto your website, that’s a deeper level of engagement than just seeing your ad.

With traditional advertising it’s much more difficult to get a follow up action than an online ad. There’s more friction to getting that follow up action with a television/radio/billboard ad. Those ad formats are not designed to make follow up actions friction-less.

Not only do you get higher levels of engagement with online ads, it’s typically cheaper and has better measurement & analytics behind them. To get video views on certain online platforms, it’s not difficult to get video views for $0.03/view or views of 100% of video for $2.00.


If you’re looking to take your political advertising to the next level, fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.


All the best. Ryan McDonald – Owner/Operator @ Shade Digital.

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