THE SPENDING GUIDE: WHERE CONSULTANTS ARE PUTTING MONEY IN THE FINAL STRETCH | Pacific Campaign House

THE SPENDING GUIDE: WHERE CONSULTANTS ARE PUTTING MONEY IN THE FINAL STRETCH

Campaigns and their consultants have hard choices to make in the next 18 days about where to allocate their remaining media budgets. In fact, these are strategic decisions that could help decide some close races.

“We still have a lot of ways to get the viewer engaged with the candidate,” said Randi Langford, a political ad sales VP at New York Interconnect (NYI), a platform that integrates inventory from linear TV, addressable TV, VOD, live streaming, and OTT.

Even New York City, which has some of the highest ad rates in the country, is getting flooded with last-minute media spending, in part, because of the competitive House races on Long Island and Staten Island: “I think it’s going to be crazy in the final two weeks,” said Langford.

But as media buying surges ahead of Election Day, it becomes harder for political marketers to spend efficiently. C&E asked some top practitioners where to find the bargains, safe bets and places to experiment between now and Election Day. Here’s what they told us.

Democrats: 

Cheryl Hori, founder, Pacific Campaign House, is experimenting on Facebook using ads directing supporters to a WhatsApp chat. 

Anything that is voter-mobilized focused would be a great place to put any additional dollars. The ads you currently have running on Facebook, you still can continue to boost those with last-minute donations. We’ve been working on ads that are placed on Facebook, but they direct people to have a conversation through WhatsApp with the campaign. If you have questions about voting, get it straight from the campaign. It’s something that an organization typically would have been doing by door knocking.

Jane Hughes, director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, is looking at OTT/CTV inventory. 

Sports are back, to a degree, and we’re at the point where voters who haven’t engaged previously are really starting to tune in. Whether it’s investing in buys around football, the conversation around the debates, or something less intuitive like cooking networks or video games, campaigns and groups have ample opportunity to meet all sorts of voters wherever they’re spending time in these last few weeks. Investments with OTT partners like Hulu and Roku will surge, and I’d expect to see an uptick in media placed with less intuitive partners like Twitch as well.

Chris Talbot, founder of Talbot Digital, is encouraging campaigns to think about audio ad options. 

Don’t forget about the earwaves: voters who don’t commute by car in a pandemic (or never did) are streaming music and podcasts, and hardly anyone is making smart content that fits this intimate audio experience. You’d think a bunch of campaigns awash in money would find the wherewithal for a smart spoken-word podcast sponsorship — bonus points if you get Jon Lovett to record and make Peloton jokes along the way. But as fun as that is, think other content: sports podcasts, entertainment — find the voters who are trying to tune out the chaos.

Yoni Landau, owner of Resistance Labs, has a warning about texting prices. 

Of course, texting rates will continue to climb as we close in on the big day. But shouldn’t see the same spike that took Hustle down in 2018. Early voting and mail chase are a much bigger part of this cycles program, so the acceleration should be more mellow.

Re: the Trump SMS shutdown [in July], I’d heard rumors that they weren’t actually clicking send for each test – which makes sense to me since dozens of groups including us, regularly send 10M+ texts over a weekend. As I’m sure you know, Twilio has instructed clients that texts without opt-out language will start being filtered starting a few days ago.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some more last minute changes in filtration practice, though I doubt carriers want a repeat of the publicity they got last time, so they’d likely do it in a more subtle way, simply increasing the # of texts that don’t make it out.

Republicans: 

Steve Johnston, COO of FlexPoint Media, doesn’t want clients going after cheap inventory.  

In spite of a scarcity of time and inventory, value remains a function of costs and benefits. You don’t simply buy the lowest priced inventory if it’s junk. Ad inventory with greater benefits like longer viewership and greater viewability or audibility may justify a higher price. The key is assessing and arbitraging the difference between price and worth. As for where I’m finding the best value for my clients? Ask me on November 4th.

Lindsey Kolb, VP of Digital Strategy at Rational 360, is encouraging clients to avoid going all-in on a single platform. 

CPMs tend to be higher now, my cost per acquisitions are higher, I’m getting less impressions because there are more people trying to advertise at the same time and take up that real estate on different platforms. So I would just say, pay attention to that, because you might be investing a lot of money in one platform where your prices skyrocket, where if you could re-allocate that to another platform and the prices stay about the same, you might have better impact there.

Kurt Luidhardt, VP and co-founder of The Prosper Group, is looking at OTT inventory and tools to help clients keep the small-dollar donations flowing. 

ROI and overall fundraising from list sharing and revshares are up significantly. In addition, the tandem donation and moneybomb features of WINRED have given our clients another profitable tool.

Facebook and Google’s restrictions for the last week aren’t a problem for campaigns who plan their final week’s content ahead of time. And, frankly, higher quality inventory sources like OTT remain unrestricted.