How to Create a Digital Strategy for Political Campaign

August 5, 2020

The 2016 and 2018 elections have shown us how important digital advertising is. Despite this, campaigns are still not fully utilizing the digital tools that are available to them. In 2018, winning Senate candidates spent just 6-7% of their media budgets on digital media vs. in 2016, President Trump spent 44% of his media budget on digital ads. The situation might change this year with the coronavirus as digital tools are one of the only options still available for campaigns.

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Running digital ads is cheaper than more traditional print and TV ads. They also allow you to target specific voters right on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, and websites all across the internet. 

Digital advertising can be highly effective when your targeting and messaging is done properly. Even though your main goal is to promote a political candidate, you need to build a relationship with voters before you can ask for their vote. The most successful digital advertising campaigns are based on authentic relationship building. 

How much should you spend on political ads?

Digital advertising campaigns can be launched very fast and they are easy to scale. You can design a successful campaign for almost any budget and any target audience. 

Here’s a simple formula that you can use to determine how much you should spend on digital ads. Please note that this is just a referential method and you should discuss your actual ad spend with your campaign manager and consultant or call Digital Impact & for a free consultation. 

First, estimate how many votes you need to win the race. Second, find out how much winning candidates in your race have spent in past elections. Then, calculate the cost per single vote by dividing the amount spent by the candidate by the number of votes cast. 

After you have these numbers you can do the math. Supposed you need 7,500 votes to win and based on previous elections, you estimate that the cost per single vote is $5. Let’s say you’re planning to spend 20% of your budget on digital ads. In that case your digital ad spend would be (7,500 votes x $5 per vote) x 20% for digital = $7,500. If you are using information from a voter file remember to take into consideration the data usage fees related to those files. 

You can also get some budget recommendations on the digital advertising platforms once you have created your target audiences. These recommendations can be very helpful when you’re trying to determine your daily spend and what kind of results you can expect with that amount. 

Where to run your political ads?

Facebook and Google are the most popular platforms for running political ads. These platforms are widely used and it is easy to reach your voters with different targeting options. Please read our How to run political ads blog post if you’re looking for more detailed guidance on running digital ads on Facebook and Google. 

Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Bing, Pinterest, and Twitch have banned political advertising on their platforms. If you’re planning to use these platforms, we recommend creating a strong organic social media strategy.

Digital Impact & understands the importance of reaching the right people at the right time with the right message. As a certified ad buyer, we know the ins and outs of different advertising platforms and can help you to target the voters you need to reach in order to win. We can help you develop an efficient digital advertising campaign that gives you laser-focused control over where and how your budget is spent. 

Emilia Honkasaari, Digital Media Director


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Digital Impact & is a full-service communications firm ready to help you develop results-driven campaigns designed to elevate your story & surpass your goals. By leveraging more than 25 years of communications & marketing experience, we implement specialized solutions, including paid online advertising, website development, professional livestreams & email marketing campaigns that deliver platform optimized creatives for our clients.
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