Midterm Madness: How Digital Advertising Is Changing for the 2018 Elections

shutterstock_435294154.jpg

Forecasters are predicting 2018 could be a record year for political ad spending, with hundreds of congressional and gubernatorial races likely to push advertising totals into the billions of dollars. With a rapidly changing political climate and a renewed focus on advertising transparency, digital advertising for the 2018 midterms is likely to have a new look.

Summarizing Key Points Succinctly

Traditionally, political candidates have taken a measured approach to digital media, using it as an extension of long-term advertising campaigns. Since 2016, however, voters have come to expect immediate reactions to current events, with policy statements and background information delivered quickly and succinctly.

With declining cable television viewership, expect midterm advertising to meet voters on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram with well-designed infographics, short and timely videos, and shareable social media posts.

Connecting National Issues Locally

The 2018 midterm elections will be decided locally, by voters who live and work in the communities alongside their elected officials. Look for effective digital ad campaigns to connect national issues on a local level.

Digital advertising allows campaigns to quickly share national news stories alongside actionable local events. Although these digital media allow the candidates to speak to a national audience, local connections and location-targeted ads can help deliver the message to potential voters.

Optimizing Ad Spending With A/B Testing

Digital A/B (or split) testing delivers data-driven results quickly so your advertising spending can be optimized with meaningful content and high click-through rates.

Facebook offers a split testing feature integrated within its ad interface that allows for easy testing of multiple ads with a single variable changed. From creative changes such as photos or copy to campaign variables including delivery optimizations or budget, this short test can quickly optimize your digital advertising dollars.

Promoting Transparency in Digital Advertising

Recent headlines about fake ads on social media have highlighted the need for digital advertising transparency. Social media companies have responded with proposals to bring more clarity to digital consumers.

While it's not yet clear how or what digital advertisers may be required to disclose, it's likely 2018 digital political ads will trend towards greater transparency.

Reflecting the Audience's Tone

Keeping in mind the results of the 2016 elections, 2018 digital ads are likely to take on the tone of their Democrat- or Republican-leaning audiences. Expect Democratic candidate ads to be more somber and direct, while Republican candidate ads will likely be more upbeat and focus on positive news.