Back in November 2012 – after voters cleared last-minute campaign flyers from doorsteps, stood in long lines, and cast their ballot for the next president of the United States – the electoral numbers came in. Obama 332, Romney 206. Obama didn’t just win the election by a landslide, however; he destroyed the digital advertising competition.

Tip Of The Election Iceberg

The Obama years – and the election campaigns that supported them – are just the beginning of a digital advertising groundswell. Even though voter turnout continues to hover at just above half of the electorate, the advent of targeted, behavior-based advertising has the potential to:

  • Invigorate the electorate through personalized experiences,
  • Build connections through unprecedented social engagement,
  • Enable campaign marketers to do much more with their advertising spend – for much less,
  • Transform the way people make voting decisions,
  • Transport electoral politics firmly into the 21st century.

Playing Catch-Up

Precise targeting is nothing new in the world of digital advertising. We’re used to search, social, and display solutions that automate optimization and retargeting, decrease spend, and increase ROI, and have been for years.

Still, in a landscape dominated by TV ads, politics has some catching up to do. And it’s doing just that, pretty quickly.

According to The Washington Post, every 2016 candidate’s website uses cookies to retarget site visitors. So, if a voting prospect visits a campaign website, then reads the latest news on a favorite political site, they’re likely to see an ad for [insert your “next president of the United States” choice here]. Campaigns are already moving in the direction of personalized, optimized ad campaigns. Add in the Facebook “echo chamber” – where a user sees more content related to their political persuasion – and you’ve got a serious platform for rallying a voter base.

What About Privacy?

Should the public be concerned? Not so much – unlike a survey, all the data are anonymized and campaigns never receive any personal user information. Instead, they use the data to identify trends, so that campaign marketers can refine their strategies and campaigns accordingly. And, politicians and campaign managers are all aware that privacy remains a hot news item. This is precisely why using an automated solution – where data and trends are used, not personal information – ensures safety in an age of very valid privacy concerns.

Ad Tech Is Here To Stay – And Influence Swing Voters

Ad tech is ubiquitous and growing exponentially every year. With its ability to collect and use the right data at the right time for the right audience, it has a powerful ability to reach the ever-important swing voter. In 2016, when the ballots are cast and the votes are tallied, the winner will be the campaign that best leveraged social, search, and display across the web.