While there was never any surprise that both 2016 US presidential election candidates garnered a fair share of publicity, it wasn’t just their views or personalities that grabbed headlines. Political advertising, particularly on digital channels, has become more prevalent and important than ever during this election season and brand marketers can learn an awful lot from it.

According to a Borrell Associates study, political ad spending is projected to reach a record $11.4 billion this year, with $1 billion of that on digital media. These moments of significant digital advertising investment do much to fuel brand marketers with insights and best practices.

Brand marketers and candidates alike are working toward the same fundamental goal. They want to understand what motivates people to take action, then take that information and use it to achieve a specific purpose. This points to why actionable data and insights are so important in brand and marketing politics.

If used correctly, data and insights can not only help sway an audience on the fence, but also reach a relevant audience that is active in the decision-making process. How do marketers, political or otherwise, truly discern the type of insights that will help them exceed their goals? With the variety of digital channels necessary to reach audiences expanding exponentially, clearly marketers cannot simply put all their eggs in one basket to guide campaigns.

For example, although social data is interesting and important, it is only one component in understanding the complete consumer, or in the case of politics, the voter. Most people are reluctant to share what means something to them on social media, relating to sensitive political issues. According to Global Web Index, only 42% of users who visit social media sites each month make active contributions, displaying this vocal minority in full effect. In politics, social data represents a vocal minority, creating a platform for voters who elect to share (often extreme) opinions.

In order for brands and candidates to gain a comprehensive view and understand what matters to consumers and voters, they must look more broadly at the type of content that engages them – beyond their social sentiments – across the web, mobile, display and video. This helps marketers gain a host of advantages in their attempt to understand audiences and anticipate their needs. A marketer with actionable, real-time insights connected to brand associations, offers a more accurate, in-the-moment, snapshot of audience sentiment and interests.

We saw the power of this approach again in the US with Ted Cruz’s political campaign, which was open about how it used advanced data modeling during the Iowa caucuses to ‘invent positions for the candidate that would resonate with Iowa voters’. Cruz was able to identify key sentiment among voters and align his candidacy around the issues they cared about most.

By understanding voters on a more personal level, Cruz was able to activate that data, take a stand on important local issues, win the Iowa Caucus and Texas, among a few others, before eventually falling short to the new President-elect Donald Trump.

We may only see political advertising’s prevalence every two or four years, but the lessons brand advertisers can learn from the presidential campaigns reaches far beyond debates and elections.

By developing strategies rooted in understanding and activating on comprehensive digital content engagement data and consumer sentiment, advertisers can serve effective and meaningful campaigns to influence audiences.


By David Barker, EMEA managing director at Amobee

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at http://www.gdprsummit.london/

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