Online campaigning has evolved over the past decade. So has the spend on political digital marketing.

Digital media will total $1.9 billion in 2018. That’s a 20% share of total political ad spending, according to a Borrell Associates forecast. Much of this spend will be on the local level for elections and ballot initiatives.

With this in mind, how much should your campaign budget for digital advertising?

To determine this, we need to pull together a few numbers. First, you need to know how many votes you need to win your race. This can be an estimate, but it helps in determining your digital ad budget. Your local board of elections can help provide information. In addition to the number of votes cast, look at what was spent by winning candidates in past elections. Dividing the amount spent by the candidate by the number of votes cast will give you thecost per single vote. This number can vary depending on the elected position and whether it was a general or primary election. Of course, money doesn’t always translate into political victory.

Let’s look at the math to determine a rough digital budget estimate for a political campaign.

Suppose you need 5000 votes to win your local election. Based on past races for the position, you’ve estimated that your cost per single vote is $5.

So if you need 5000 votes to win, and will spend an average of $5 per won vote, and you plan to spend 20% of your budget on digital, then your budget for digital media would be $5000. (5000 votes x $5 per won vote) x 20% for digital = $5000

Some local candidates will do the minimum and just create an election web site. Others will also create social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter. But they won’t get far or attract much of a following without spending money. In the online realm, there is no free lunch anymore.

Even low-budget local candidates are campaigning online to reach voters. How a digital budget is spent will vary depending on the campaign’s budget and digital marketing resources.

Facebook advertising is a cheap and simple way to promote your campaign. You can promote posts and target Facebook ads to voters in your area. You can target your even ads by interests and demographics. However, new restrictions and disclosure requirements are changing the ad landscape.

Pay per click on Google and Bing is another method of promoting your campaign. Ads are displayed when people search for phrases that you bid on. Most campaigns will target their name, location and keywords related to various issues.

Retargeting< displays recurring ads to people who visit your campaign website. The goal is to get them to return to your site by showing your ads on other websites. While affordable, this advertising method limits your audience to those who have already seen your site.

Many campaigns are now taking their message to voters through IP Targeting. Physical mailing addresses can be translated to IP address, allowing ads to be targeted one-on-one to potential voters. You can reach members of your party, households matching a certain demographic or even specific geographic locations. IP-backed banner ad campaigns have been shown to be 50 to 100 times more targeted then television, and 6 to 60 times more effective than other online ad methods.

Ideally, you’ll want to serve targeted digital ads to households 30-45 days before the election with a 50X to 90X frequency.

Digital advertising isn’t about clicks, web visits, donations raised or submitted volunteer forms. It’s about delivering your message to voters so they remember you when they cast their ballot. The more touches and exposure you make to each voter, the better.

Ultimately, your advertising success is measured in votes on Election Day.

Online Candidate provides an affordable, powerful way to build your campaign website. Find out why we are the choice for hundreds of campaign every election cycle.


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