Dominated by America’s most expensive media markets, New Jersey has long relied on direct mail to reach targeted voters.
Advances in advertising technology, especially programmatic digital advertising, are providing new ways to reach voters without exhausting a campaign’s budget.
Digital advertising has more microtargeting options, provides real time data, and enables voters to quickly get candidate information, sign up to volunteer, and make a contribution.
Effective and nimble, programmatic digital advertising is also complex. Understanding the basics requires knowing a few concepts.
Digital advertising isn’t like newspaper advertising.
Do you (still) get newspaper home delivery? Does the paper you and your neighbors get have the same ads? Of course they do. Publishers don’t personalize individual papers for each individual reader.
But websites can do that with digital ads.
An advertiser can program a digital ad to avoid everyone’s house but yours. This means campaigns can get their message to targeted voters’ homes and skip others.
Targeted digital advertising requires voter addresses.
Similar to how sending targeted direct mail requires a mailing address, sending targeted digital ads also requires an address … an authenticated IP address.
Every internet-connected device has an IP address. Information your computer, smartphone, or tablet sends and receives carries the IP address of the recipient device and the sending device. Think of it like the mailing address and return address on a letter.
To find voter IP addresses for sending targeted digital ads, a voter mailing list is matched to a database of internet-connected households. Once individual voters are matched to their IP address, the campaign’s digital ad is programmed for delivery to only these IP addresses. A word of caution: Avoid modeled IP targeting because IP addresses change frequently. If you’re targeting households (and why wouldn’t you?), use a matching platform that uses IP addresses provided by internet service providers.
Programmatic digital advertising follows voters across the internet.
Newspaper, broadcast, and billboard advertising require people be in the right place at the right time. People who don’t buy the paper where you advertised, listen to the show on which you bought air time, or drive the road where you bought a billboard won’t see or hear any of your ads.
Programmatic digital ads appear almost anywhere and instantly to get seen by your targeted voters. Whether a voter is visiting a New Jersey, national, or out-of-state news site, programmatic digital ads will chase your voter across the internet, injecting your ad onto any of thousands of sites that a targeted voter may visit at any moment.
Ads appear on mobile devices, too.
Smartphones and tablets that used a targeted voter’s home Wi-Fi will also receive a campaign’s digital ads. Even when no longer connected to the voter’s Wi-Fi, these devices will continue to receive ads. People use mobile devices more than desktop computers for accessing the internet. This means reaching mobile devices is critical to a digital ad campaign’s success.
Programmatic digital advertising has brought a new dimension to political and issue advocacy campaigns. Reaching targeted voter households with online ads … and with surgical accuracy … was once unimaginable.
Not any more.
Ernest Landante Jr is president of State House Digital and Advocacy LLC. He can be reached at www.statehousedigital.com.