Geo-Targeted Political Ads; Primaries Perfect Testing Ground for General Elections
Ryan Buddenhagen, March 9, 2012
Geo-targeting has been utilized to deliver location-specific content to web users in many ways for several years and is now having greater potential in the political arena. Geo-targeting itself has gone through several iterations on various platforms, but the essentials remain.
In SEO, experts can integrate location-specific information like state and town details into content throughout the website and related properties, including in all important Meta tags. With Google specifically, experts utilize tools and optimize through coding. Optimization on specific platforms like Google Places further extends the impact of geo-targeting. But this run of Republican primaries has seen some innovative campaigning that has include geo-targeted campaign advertising.
Geo-targeted ads were part of the 2010 midterm elections, particularly with Michele Bachman's congressional campaign. Her campaign purchased a mobile ad targeting smartphone users close in proximity to a Minnesota State Fair. This same model is perfect for presidential primaries as in these contests; usually one specific area is the primary focus and has the opportunity to vote at a time. Thus, geo-targeted ads can allow campaigns to strategically place locally relevant content in their advertising messages to a specific state or local area. This allows segmentation of their audiences which can be very valuable in terms of matching messages to the most relevant subject matter for a specific region.
At a time when more and more money is spent on campaign advertising (political ad spend across all media is expected to surpass $4 billion in 2012, breaking the $2.8 billion record in the 2007-2008 elections, according to S&P Capital IQ Analysts), it is important for accountability over spending to be present. Messages must be targeted more accurately with proven analytics which internet-based geo-targeting advertising provides.
Implementing Geo-Targeted Political Ads
Let's look at how this could actually be implemented. For the four caucuses coming up tomorrow, March 10, each of the four remaining candidates could identify what the most important issue is for each state or territory participating in the caucuses. From there, campaigns could implement geo-targeted ads putting forth their message on whichever topic is the most important for that region at a very specific time, say in the week before or on the day of voting.
Further, this could even be done on a county level. Say the economy and jobs are the most important issues for Butler County in Kansas, but education reform holds the highest importance in neighboring Sedgwick County. Candidates could geo-target ads with different messaging for each county essentially giving voters their campaigns' best shot; the campaigns' core message on the subject most important to them. Additionally, campaigns can send subject and geo-targeted messages to their various audience segments to generate interest and further engage voters about ways they can get involved locally to learn more about or support certain candidates.
With the general elections following the current voting and activity among Republicans, these GOP primaries can prove to be a testing ground for geo-targeted advertising whether on smartphones or on the standard web for the coming general election season. In the run-up to elections in November, both President Obama and the GOP Nominee could put into action such advertising based on the experience of current campaigns. To do so, campaigns would benefit from expert internet marketing and SEO companies that would help them leverage such efforts.