Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Effectively Campaign Online with Web Ads

Summary: Some Do’s and Don’ts of online campaigning.

Our friends at Spot-On recently sent an email blast about effectively campaigning online. One important aspect was how to effectively use web ads.

In a post on their company blog, they point out the “Do’s and Don’ts” of using web ads:

DO start early.

Online advertising can be used for a variety of purposes - early fundraising, field organizing, and GOTV. Online readers are usually hungry for information, so the sooner you start even a small fundraising and name I.D. campaign online, the better. More importantly, this helps you with publishers as elections near and ad space runs short. Long term clients tend to get more attention than someone who's showing up for the first time 2 weeks before election day.

Also remember that unlike political TV ads or direct mail, where political advertisers are used to getting preferential treatment and prices at election time, Internet advertising pits you against everyone who wants to place an ad online. Consider also that back-to-school ads and early holiday shopping ads pop up around election time, and you can see why planning early and often makes the difference.

DON'T skimp on creative.

Successful on-line ads make people want to read and click on your ad to learn more about your campaign or cause. Many people make the mistake of treating online ads as "display" ads to be looked at, passively, not ads that engage voters. You want people to see the ad and feel compelled to click through to your campaign's online operations.

That's why your ads should borrow a trick from direct-mail marketers and use easily understood "calls to action" to get the reader to do something for your campaign. Fundraising, signing an online petition, an emotional issue-based appeal, and so on will do much better than a dull "Vote for Smith" banner that doesn't tell people much.

DO make sure your designers are using proper technical specifications.

There is nothing worse than being on a tight deadline, and having to have artwork re-sized to fit display standards. Spot-on complies with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) standards. They are available at their site. Make sure all of your designers are familiar with the standards.

Likewise, avoid the urge to use excessive Flash or audio in your ads. Many sites will not accept any ads, even ones to spec, that use audio or video. Others require animation to stop once it has run through a cycle.

DON'T isolate online from the rest of your campaign.

Internet advertising and online advocacy are no longer "extras" bolted on after the rest of the campaign's plan is done. All aspects of a campaign's voter contact plan - television, direct mail, Facebook marketing and outreach, and online ads - should all maintain a unified look and feel. This reinforces the message and drives voters to your website, your Facebook presence and/or application, your campaign office to volunteer and so on.

DO consider a variety of options for your online ads.

Focusing your on-line dollars on traditional outlets that have dominated your city or town can be an exercise in futility. Many reach less than 20 percent of their markets online. With so many choices available to voters nowadays for information, advertising solely on online versions of print media may limit your reach more than you realize. Ethnic media, trade publications, and geo-targeted ads on national media (think targeting Chicago readers of the New York Times, for example). It's the kind of planning that sounds counter to common sense - and yet can often be the edge your campaign needs to win.

Spot-on's Pinpoint Persuasion service is designed to reach voters that meet your search criteria. Using a range of services designed to help us pinpoint the voters by interest, gender, income, affiliation or other demographics, as well as our own rich database of information, Spot-on will help you get your message to the right audience at the right time to create a winning campaign.

Most of these points seem obvious, but in retrospect, they’re only obvious after you’ve read them. We hope they help you as you work out your online strategy for 2010.

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