Political campaigns today have many options for online advertising to reach and influence voters. Candidates can now reach out based on demographics and tailor their advertisements to particular audiences. With a low cost to entry, even local candidates can put together an effective advertising strategy.

Online ad spending is way, way up over the last few election cycles. How much should you budget for online advertising? This varies on the size of your campaign and the amount of money you have to work with. It a good idea to commit a small budget early on to see what works best for you. Build a reserve for your online Get Out The Vote advertising. Every campaign has a different set of challenges. Fortunately, it is easy to shift online advertising in response to new events and situations.

There are a number of ways to promote your campaign online. Here are some of the most popular options for local political campaigns today:

Facebook Advertising

Advertising on Facebook can be very effective. Facebook allows advertisers to target people based on their demographics. This means you can drive your message directly to voting-age users that match specific locations and have expressed a interest preferences. You can promote direct ads or your Facebook posts. The minimum required budget is only a few dollars per ad, so the barrier to entry is low. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so that site is covered as well.

Following the 2016 US presidential election, there has been some controversy about Facebook advertising. As of 2018, advertisers pushing viewpoints on political and social issues are required to provide more disclosure about who they are. Political ads will also be labeled so users can discover more about the ads that they see.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Your best bet for Pay Per Click advertising is to do both Google Adwords and Microsoft Adcenter. As of 2010, Adcenter supplies advertising content to both Bing and Yahoo! properties, so between these two PPC networks, you’ll cover a large portion of search engine traffic. You’ll generally find Adcenter costs per click to be lower than Adwords. Of course, the volume of traffic you receive will also be lower.

For branding, larger political campaigns often advertise on more than just the search engines. They will also allow their ads to appear on the Google Display Network which encompasses thousands of websites.

Local Campaign Website Advertising

Banner ads are still relevant, especially when run on local media sites, such as local newspaper websites. Banners can help with branding and messaging efforts. While traditional banner ads often have low click-through rates, they can help build name recognition to a local audience. The cost for banner ads varies with the market and the outlet.

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Retargeting

Retargeting allows you to serve display (banner) ads to people who have visited your campaign website. Now an established tool for national politics, is it now used in local and regional campaigns. Visitor retargeting can help serve ads to voters who are actively researching candidates. Retargeting can help keep interested voters engaged throughout the campaign, helping to increase awareness and voter turnout.

IP Targeting

IP Targeting uses individual IP addresses to reach specific voter households. It works by matching IP addresses to a list of names and street addresses.  Your ads reach the target households and display your ads on websites they visit across the internet, like news sites. IP targeting is superior to geo-targeting because it allows you to target your advertising to specific households and businesses.

You can tailor your advertising messaging to individual audiences for greater impact and response. Because of this, IP-targeted ads have higher click-through rate than PPC or retargeting campaigns.

Before you begin online advertising, your campaign should have a website in which to direct ad traffic. As the online hub of your campaign, your website is where you post news and events and accept online donations.

Once you begin advertising, you should keep track of how well each ad performs. Run multiple ads at one time to determine which is more effective. This can help improve your messaging and effectiveness.

With some planning and a budget, you can increase voter exposure and run circles around your political opponents. It’s a two-front battle – online and offline. Get started today!

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