Digital Campaigning Takeaways from the 2022 Midterms

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As we look toward next year, media strategists across the country are analyzing what worked most effectively in the Midterms — and how those learnings shape plans for 2023 and beyond. 

Our team is no different: and we’re looking back to help pinpoint what worked best in moving effective digital messaging to voters. And these takeaways aren’t just for campaigns with large media budgets — they can be applied to move powerful messages for candidates from the school board to the city council.

Creative refreshes kept messaging engaging

As political money flooded the market (nearly $17 billion was spent across campaigns this year) voters saw no shortage of political messaging. Stand-out campaigns were able to keep voters engaged by refreshing ad versions often to avoid creative burnout. While creative production is often one of the most cost-prohibitive elements of an effective strategy — 2022 saw candidates using low-cost creative tactics, such as direct-to-camera videos filmed on a smartphone or graphics created with no-cost template builders such as Canva or our SpeakEasy creative suite, to expand production capacity.

Expanding channel choices helped fight reach challenges

Impactful campaigns reached voters across many channels — from organic social, to direct mail, to digital channels. One of the biggest wins we saw in digital was campaigns of budget all sizes using targeted digital video to reach their audience. This included buys on Youtube, list-targeted pre-roll, Hulu, and across the Connected TV/OTT ecosystem. This multi-channel tactic helps fight a fundamental campaign challenge: not all voters are in one place. For example, some likely school board voters may spend hours on Youtube watching travel videos, while others may wind down every night watching movies on their Roku TV.  Allocating media budgets across channels helps ensure that crucial voters don’t miss your message.

Campaigns thought critically about brand safety

Brand and campaign safety has continued to be top of mind for political media buyers this cycle. In addition to blocking 18+ content and hyper-partisan news  — campaigns also considered the question of “brand suitability,” or what types of media and content were specifically appropriate for their programs. For example, while a local Democratic political campaign targeting adults 55+ would want to avoid showing up on Breitbart, they would also likely want to avoid wasting ad dollars on a G-rated Youtube channel primarily watched by young children. Or an initiative focused on increasing voter registration in the 18-22 demographic might be highly interested in targeting video game content and streaming platforms. Content matters — and just because a channel is brand safe, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most impactful place for ad dollars.

They planned for digital inventory to tighten 

Especially with a late election date this cycle, digital inventory continued to tighten as the political season and the holiday shopping season intersected. Media firms such as ours helped our clients prepare for this challenge by securing direct buys with media publishers and leveraging strong relationships with Demand Side Platforms. Campaigns also planned for CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) to rise as early voting and GOTV weekend approached by creating dynamic media budgets that held back spending specifically for these high-volume media windows.

And they didn’t forget about mail!

While the focus here is on digital, successful campaigns spoke to voters across channels — and that includes in their mailboxes! Impactful mail programs were authentic, targeted, and spoke to voters with clear information. While digital is a powerful tool, it doesn’t reach all voters, especially those in areas with traditionally lower internet usage. 

Interested in learning more about how SpeakEasy can power your 2023 and 2024 ad programs? Please get in touch with us below — we’d love to hear from you!

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