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Best Practices for Online Advertising

American Election Campaign Do's and Don'ts

DO start early.

Election Campaigns have found that online advertising is a great tool for early fundraising, field organizing, and GOTV. Online readers are usually hungry for information; so the sooner you start even a small fundraising and name I.D. campaign online, the better. More importantly, advertising early helps to secure space with publishers as elections near and ad space runs short. Long-term clients will get more attention than someone who wants to run a campaign's first ad two weeks before election day.

Also remember that unlike political TV ads or direct mail, where political advertisers are used to preferential treatment and prices at election time, internet advertising pits you against any advertiser who wants to place an ad. Back-to-school ads and early holiday shopping ads pop up around election time, for example.

DON'T skimp on creative for an election ad campaign.

Successful on-line ads convince viewers to click so they can learn more about your election campaign or cause. Don't make the mistake of treating online ads as "display" banner ads to be looked at passively. You want voters to see your ad and feel compelled to click through to your campaign's site or landing page.

Borrow a direct-mail trick and include a "call to action" that is easy to understand and act on. Asking for donations or signatures for an internet petition or making an emotional issue-based appeal in an ad is much more effective than a simple "Vote for Smith" message.

DO make sure your designers are using proper technical specifications.

There is nothing worse than being on a tight deadline and being asked to re-size or reformat your ad to fit display standards. We can help you comply with the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) standards, which are available on the IAB site. Make sure all of your designers are familiar with the standards.

Likewise, avoid the urge to use excessive Flash or audio in your ads. Many sites will not accept any ads, even ones that comply with IAB specifications that use audio or video. Others require animation to stop once it has run through a cycle.

Winning Campaigns Use These Strategies

DON'T isolate internet efforts from the rest of your election campaign.

Internet advertising and advocacy are not "extras" to be bolted onto a campaign plan. All elements of a campaign's voter contact plan - television, direct mail and online ads - should have a unified look and feel. Consistency reinforces your message and drives voters to your website, your Facebook presence and/or application or your campaign office to volunteer.

DO consider a variety of options for your internet ads.

With so many options for information available to voters, advertising only with web versions of print media may limit your reach more than you realize. The Internet offers a diverse range of options including ethnic media, trade publications, and geo-targeted versions of national media (think targeting Chicago readers of the New York Times, for example). It may sound counter intuitive to expand your choices so you can hone in on target voters, but accessing the diversity of the web could be the edge your campaign needs to win.

Pinpoint Persuasion is a media buying service that matches online media with voters that meet your search criteria. We find online media that pinpoints voters by interest, gender, income, affiliation or other demographics, as well as our own rich database of information.

Next: Online ad specifications »

Insider Tip: YOU Make Banner Ads Better

Put a face on your ad. One thing seems to be clear about online political ads: voters respond better to ads carrying the candidate's face. We've seen higher than usual click-through rates for ads carrying pictures of candidates.