Weekly Digital Breakdown

Alexa Gets Into Politics

If you’re looking for an easy way to contribute to the 2020 presidential election, Alexa can help. As of today, principle candidates can register to receive donations through voice commands on Amazon’s Alexa. Starting in October,users can contribute up to $200 to participating candidate’s campaign funds through Amazon Pay. 

In addition to making a financial contribution, Alexa users will also have access to advanced functionality which includes support for new questions and features to keep voters informed. Some examples include, “Alexa, how is [candidate’s name] polling?”, “Alexa, who endorses [candidate’s name]?” or “Alexa, when is the next debate?” The enhanced technology is an effort to build off previous election experiences and helping voters become more involved in the electoral process. 

As Alexa learns more about the information voters seek, Amazon will continue to add and refine its functionality in the process.  Aside from asking questions directly to the device, the company also allows users to choose their preferred news providers for electoral updates as the country is about to enter what many considered a very contentious race. 

Steps to sign up for Alexa Political Contributions detail the necessary criteria required to be considered. As stated on the site, only principle candidates are eligible but no additional information on what qualifies someone for that distinction is included. 

While the improved technology could be a huge win for candidates, it comes as big tech is under immense scrutiny for data privacy. Amazon did not make any comments with the release concerning if or how they will use users questions or presidential candidate preferences for targeting purposes. Following the 2016 presidential race, election integrity in terms of data and ad targeting remains a huge concern and with this updated feature, users will be willingly providing detailed information into what previous generations have viewed as very personal information.  

As of today, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the first to express interest and has contacted Amazon about the process. The company expects others to follow suit prior to giving the public access next month. 

Alexa is ready and willing to be a resource for users during the election process, they just won’t tell you who to vote for on election day.  


The Peacock Network Struts Into Focus

The streaming market is about to welcome a new player next spring. NBC plans to release the Peacock network packed with over 15,000 hours of content with a heavy focus on their original comedies. NBC chose the name of the service in a nod to the iconic brand’s logo, which has been  viewed in living rooms since it first debuted in living rooms in 1956. The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, both slated to be open to subscriptions starting in November 2019.

Like others, the new service will offer both an ad supported and subscription supported options. The company is hoping to boost viewer excitement with reboots of loved 80’s classics such as Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell, combined with original programming with stars such as Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater. Peacock also boasts a catalog of exclusive streaming rights to coveted comedies such as The Office, Parks and Recreation, and many more.

The service will first be offered to Comcast subscribers, at least in ad-supported format, and then rolled out to the public. NBC anticipates the service will offer content that can connect to all household members, continuing their reign as a leading household name for entertainment.


Amazon Searches Turn A Profit

Amazon is facing new claims in a recently published Wall Street Journal article that product results populating from shopping searches are being skewed to show the company’s most profitable items first. Engineers who worked on the project report the tech giant optimized its algorithm last year in favor of Amazon’s own branded products. 

If true, the news is particularly concerning for Amazon sellers who rely on the results for product promotion. With the majority of sales coming from the first page of results, losing rank could significantly impact profits, particularly for smaller businesses. Other indications of the potential shift come with default search rankings now being listed as “featured” rather than previously listed by “relevance”. The adjusted criteria could be giving other companies no way to overcome what appears to be a hardwired disadvantage. Amazon denied changes to its process and said it does not factor in profitability into search rankings. 

The accusations could be a serious concern as big tech brands continue to find themselves the target of federal focus. Regulators are monitoring the industry particularly closely for fear companies are using their stronghold on the market to  discourage and even eliminate competition. As the company continues its massive success, it’s unlikely it will escape the growing spotlight.


Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Increases Political Ad Security

Political advertising got more intense this week as Facebook announced increased security measures to ensure advertising validity. Paid ads by political candidates or groups must adhere to more stringent requirements and approval process before going live in a move to increase transparency and gain user trust.

Moving forward, US political advertisers must submit a valid US address, phone number, business email and corresponding website along with either a tax-registered identification number (EIN), a government website with matching email which must end in .gov or .mil, or a Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number. Any political advertisers currently running must provide or update this information in order to avoid being paused in October. Once the organization is confirmed by the platform, ads will display the “i” icon where users can learn more about the Political Ads policy and signifies a “Confirmed Organization.” 

Local politicians or smaller businesses wishing to advertise election focused ads have the option to conform to the original requirements or provide the page admin’s legal name on their personal information document. In these instances, the “i” icon will read “About this ad” for users to gain additional information.

Facebook has also decided to narrow its social issues list with a broader focus to encompass more pertinent topics. The shift will not change the authorization process and the company will continue to keep the list fluid, making changes and updates as needed.

With previous demonstrations highlighting necessary advertiser vetting to avoid fake ads and in turn, false information, Facebook wants users and advertisers to be assured what they see is legitimate during critical campaign times as well as prohibit parties that aim to discourage voting. Facebook hopes the additional steps will disbar ongoing questions about their 2016 election involvement and create documented transparency as the country enters a new election cycle that is sure to be eventful.


The Cleveland Browns Have A Win With Budweiser

As Cleveland Browns’ fans gear up for football season, this year’s new roster brings renewed hope for a team that’s in need of a big win. While it may not sound like much, the team has had a dismal showing the past few years. Despite the outcome, loyal fans tirelessly cheer on their home team, hoping their luck will change. In recognition of city’s unwavering dedication, last season Budweiser partnered with the Cleveland Browns on their “Victory Fridge” campaign. Due to the overwhelming success, the two have teamed up for a repeat season, only better. 

The 2018 campaign was simple, Budweiser sold fridges to Cleveland-area bars with the message, “When the Browns Win, Cleveland Wins.” Each fridge came stocked with Bud Light and would automatically unlock via smart technology with the first regular-season win. With a 0-16 season in the rearview mirror, fans were anxious for the long awaited victory. When the team won in the third week of the season, the city partied into the morning hours, along with Budweiser marketers, with the overwhelming viral coverage. 

Like the hopes for the team’s season, Budweiser decided to make 2019 bigger and better. In collaboration with WWE star and Cleveland, Ohio native, The Miz, the brand will be selling the coveted beer fridges to devoted fans in a limited-time pop-up store located in the heart of the city. The nostalgic appliance store will only be open for sales this weekend and all proceeds will benefit the local Browns Give Back community partners program. In addition, buyers will receive a redemption code to stock the fridge with discounted Bud Light. 

The campaign comes in response from numerous fan requests who want their own Victory Fridge to show their undying support. While Bud Light continues to battle dwindling sales, the focus on an area of the country that loves Bud Light almost as much as Cleveland sports, is sure to be an early season win.


Instagram Helps Friends Find Common Threads

Facebook’s Instagram is internally testing a new app for sharing messaging and photos called Threads, poised to be a companion app to Instagram and potentially a direct competitor with Snapchat. Using the close friends list feature, which was unveiled last November, Threads lets users automatically share their status with those on the list. Messages can include those entered by the user, photos, videos, general location, or that they are “on the move” by using GPS tracking. 

The communication allows those friend groups to be constantly connected, with the intention of  growing interest and engagement. By opting for automatic sharing, the app would regularly update your daily activity for more authentic daily highlights. Messages from friends would appear in a central feed which would also indicate which friends are currently active with a green dot. The feed would also show recent story activity by friends as well as a camera to capture photos and videos to share within the group.

The company is keeping details quiet but it appears Initial plans are to launch Thread as an independent app with an ultimate goal of integrating with all of Facebook’s messaging services. The announcement comes as Mark Zuckerberg has made it known that Facebook plans to put a heightened focus on private messaging in order to foster online community and the connection of close friends rather than sharing to the masses. 


7 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch for the 2018 Election Season


 Political advertising isn't just about spending money — it's about creating a platform for powerful messaging to influence the voting process. Highly specific targeting is also necessary. These factors play a large role in shaping the trends in digital-political marketing, and that's just as true in 2018 as it was in 2008. Here are seven digital marketing trends to watch for the upcoming season.

1. Dynamic Database Systems

Properly code and build detailed databases to include demographic information. Data of this nature aid in identifying voting history or frequency. If possible, include data relative to voter belief systems. A deeper understanding of demographics in terms of digital marketing provides a broader range of information to segment and target voters from polling data.


Most of the information needed to establish an efficient database strategy can be obtained through field or telecommunications analysis. Surveys, polls, and petitions are alternative sources, too.


Using demographic information, advertisers can search or track data with greater efficiency. Then there are added benefits to targeting through:

●      Email list segmentation: Divide lists into categories — one devised of persuadable voters and the other containing enthusiastic supporters. Lists can also be narrowed to include volunteers, contributors, registered voters, inactive voters, and even political signage.

●      Fundraiser data: Zero in on donors and research their worldviews, which could be issues ranging from economics to abortion rights. Aim to push their response buttons.

●      Advanced data modeling: Build a dynamic database using transactional data such as contributions made to political campaigns and causes.


Don't forget that people change and their perspectives will, too. Over time you'll need to bring in new data, refresh old data, build new models, and update accordingly.

2. Integrated Multichannel Marketing


Synchronizing messages across channels to increase awareness, favorability, or familiarity is no different on the political landscape. Integrated communications allow advertisers to deliver consistent messages to targets of a defined audience.


Popular in every sense, the internet still brings advertisers opportunities to share through social media, websites, and mobile apps. For specific groups you are targeting, create immersive experiences via channels such as:

●      Video

●      Direct mail

●      Email

●      Facebook newsfeed

●      Banner ads


To amplify this strategy, customize messages across ads or email — for instance, by retargeting. It's a cinch when used in combination with dedicated, promotion-specific landing pages.

3. Direct-Response Content

Copy containing a cleverly crafted call to action (CTA) and unique selling propositions are essential components to highlight the benefits of politically infused campaigns. To further solidify your marketing efforts, add separate landing pages for each segment you're targeting.


Imagine this: Your marketing team creates spectacular offers and drives traffic directly to the brand's homepage. The problem with this? There's no way to target messaging or measure its effectiveness. Clear messaging delivered through multiple channels deserves dedicated landing pages.


According to recent findings, 48 percent of landing pages contain multiple offers. Attention spans are short, so stick with a single offer and CTA button instead. This ensures audiences are only focused on taking one action at a time.


Also, minor tweaks are sometimes needed to increase response rates. Adopting a test and optimizing strategy for use on the regular keeps the marketing machine running.

4. "Bumper" Pre-roll Video

Video plays an essential role in online advertising. The short, memorable messages that work in your favor when targeting voters are those featured on YouTube video, as bumper pre-rolls. Six seconds is all it takes to maximize your reach, and Google Ads offers an intuitive platform to create bumper ads for mini-messages that have minimal impact on the viewing experience.


Again, focus is instrumental. To get the most out of your 6 seconds, design three distinctive ads that focus on one element in particular. Also, a combination of music, voice-overs, emotion, and comedy play well in bumpers.


Using video-based content is effective. More interesting are the benefits of retargeting, when advertisers can target people who show interest. Once a viewer engages, they become the perfect candidate for dynamic pre-roll ads. This method re-targets viewers with the same offers or category of products in the same price range.


Advertisers can get creative and take more chances with short-form messaging — even more so with Trueview campaigns. Each ad can be distributed to serve a different purpose: one for deeper engagement and one for reach and awareness, for example. Also, video retargeting continues to turn convention on its head, all while generating high returns on investments.

5. Digital Audio

Yes, power still reigns in audio — specifically, delivery of highly creative messages to voters in their unique environments.


With the rise of voice activation and recognition technologies such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, audio is an emerging tool to reach voters of all backgrounds and ages. With music being a top entertainment choice for many Americans, consider using Pandora as an outreach method in the next voter cycle. It's a premium, clutter-free environment where voters are tuned-in and receptive.

6. Mobile Devices

Advertisers need to be where many voters are today — on mobile. Voters use mobile to watch TV, stream audio and video, check their social feeds, and play games. A shift to mobile advertising is important. Advertisers who embrace this strategy gain a winning advantage for future campaigns.

7. Influencer Marketing

Reaching a few targeted voters can prove to be more effective than reaching the masses. Employ this digital marketing strategy to reach and influence important leaders capable of taking on the role of brand advocates to deliver messages to larger audiences.


The benefit of political advertising? The influencer (person, brand, web page, or source with vast reach) has credibility with — and the ability to influence — an audience. The success of using an influencer depends on how well the influencer spreads marketing messages and the impact those messages have on the audience.


What's next? Political marketers need to take an audience-first approach to generate sufficient awareness and persuasion. Advertisers are poised to leverage these valuable marketing techniques in strategic ways.

Programmatic And Politics - How RTB Can Boost Your November Strategy


By: Andrew Ransom

As politics moves from TV and direct mail to targeted online messages, campaigns are struggling to find effective and competent partners to help them reach voters in the digital space. Because of the scarcity of tested digital advertising providers, many campaigns are still missing out on opportunities to utilize some of the industry’s most effective digital tools. Among these tools, real-time bidding (RTB) stands out.

What do campaigns need from digital tools?

The ultimate strategy of any political campaign is, of course, to win votes. To win votes, a campaign needs to reach three essential benchmarks with any voter: they need to know the candidate or issue, they need to like you or agree with your position, and they need to actually cast a vote in your name or for your measure. These three benchmarks should be mirrored in three separate strategies for a digital campaign; focusing on name recognition, issue advocacy, and getting out the vote.

Can RTB help guide these strategies?

Real-time bidding is a way to purchase advertising inventory on a per-impression basis via an instantaneous auction. Using tools like DSPs, advertisers can bid on impressions based on user data, site data, and other technologies to ensure the user seeing the impression is exactly who they want. It is a vital tool for digital marketing in the private sector, and has all the capabilities to assist political campaigns in all three areas of their digital operation.

While political campaigns still rely heavily on TV and Direct Mail buys, RTB has been successfully deployed by a number of high-profile campaigns; usually well-funded statewide or national races. But within those races, both parties have spent tens of millions on programmatic advertising. It’s because they understand that TV and Direct Mail simply cannot provide the level of targeting or reporting campaigns can find in the digital space. And within RTB, those options are compounded.

Campaigns can use RTB to target users in almost every way imaginable; down the the type of operating system a user is utilizing on their device. And while these options are the cornerstone for producing incredible results, they are complicated to navigate; steering many campaigns clear of the space in recent years. This has left a huge opportunity for experienced agencies to help campaigns develop winning strategies in the RTB space, and a big advantage for campaigns willing to break through the barrier.

How can RTB help my candidate’s name ID, issue advocacy, and GOTV efforts?

One of the biggest issues for candidates has been raising their name ID in the early days of a campaign. In the past this problem has been solved with expensive TV buys blanketing districts with a one-size fits all message, or direct mail bombs filling mailboxes with palm-cards that are quickly discarded. But by building a tailored digital strategy utilizing a few tools that are unique to RTB, campaigns could instantly become more targeted and cost effective with their message.

Using audience segments from leading political data providers, and geographic overlays, campaigns can deliver tailored pre-roll messages to voters based on issues the campaign is focused on. And adding in viewability requirements, and premium sitelist targets, campaigns can ensure their messages are highly visible to their base. Using a budget similar to a TV or Direct Mail buy, campaigns can plan to reach their targeted users at a significantly higher frequency. This is vital to driving messaging and increasing candidate or issue ID in the early days of any campaign.

This strategy is also incredibly useful in the second leg of campaigns, issue advocacy. As election day approaches, campaigns kick their issue focuses into high gear. For many campaigns it’s also when money gets tight, and making every dollar count makes all the difference. This is a perfect time to utilize digital opportunities like RTB. Using a similar strategy as they did in the name ID leg of the campaign, campaigns can deliver multiple segmented messages to the right audiences in a dramatically more effective way than TV or direct mail. This is also when RTB’s measurement capabilities play a huge role. As users click through to issue microsites, and sign pledges, RTB can deliver vital insights to campaigns on where they stand with voters on each issue.

In the final weeks of a campaign, messaging focus shifts from advocacy to getting out the vote. Campaigns need to ensure that the voters they’ve won actually make it to the polls. Fortunately RTB can help, this time with a display ad strategy. By retargeting pledge signers, donors, and other aligned voters with highly viewable display ads, campaigns can deliver vital information on voting. From early voting and absentee ballots, to finding polling places. Campaigns can utilize RTB to ensure their voters make it to the polls. Where TV falls short in broad targeting, and direct mail can’t capture audience attention, RTB provides a completely unique opportunity for campaigns to urge their voters to cast their votes.

How can I find the right partner to help my campaign?

A comprehensive RTB strategy can be complicated even for seasoned advertising professionals, and completely overwhelming for campaigns focused on so many moving pieces. That’s why it is vital for campaigns to select the right partner to run their RTB operations.

Many agencies offering these services in the political space are traditional media firms or communications consultants. While they have great connections with campaign professionals, their relationships in the advertising space can be limited. This results in many of these partners using sub-par or black-box tools that don’t offer what campaigns really need. Or, they whitelist their services with another digital advertising firm, resulting in higher fees and ultimately fewer impressions served to the campaign’s targeted voters.

However, many traditional advertising agencies can provide exactly what campaigns need. They have long relationships in the industry, which helps to ensure they have tools that can provide options to campaigns. They have access to more data, allowing campaigns to segment their messages and make the most of their money. And on top of that, many traditional agencies employ former political operatives who will understand what a campaign needs, and be able to deliver optimal results.

But is RTB right for my campaign?

Almost any campaign can utilize RTB effectively in their strategy. Real-time bidding offers incredible advantages over traditional approaches like TV and Direct Mail. A campaign that can afford these operations can easily succeed in the RTB space. In fact, they can expect better targeting, measurement, and results if they move budget into the digital space.

More than any of the traditional campaign messaging approaches, RTB provides an extremely cost-effective and valuable option to campaigns that are focused on reaching voters and winning elections. If your campaign wants to make the most of your media budget, reach out and explore digital options like RTB. It could make all the difference.

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


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.