Obama, DNC Launch Last Minute $2.5 Million Ad Campaign on Hulu, Pandora, Facebook

The Influence Project

How should politicians use the Internet to advance their message? Unlike on TV, where candidates steadily riddle viewers with ads throughout the campaign season, the Web is best utilized in one last-minute effort. That’s the thinking behind President Obama and the DNC's latest ad blitz.

Today, the DNC launched a final push on the Web, in an enormous $2.5 million ad buy that Politico reporter Ben Smith estimates to be "the largest online ad buy" of this election cycle. The buy includes ads on a slew of popular sites—Hulu, Pandora, Facebook, YouTube, Huffington Post, Comedy Central—which very likely are garnering more views than Tuesday morning soap operas. DNC spokesperson Lynda Tran tells Fast Company the buy also includes geo-targeting voters through ads on local news sites in key states, in addition to extensive mobile ads. She says expected ad viewership in these targeted areas could reach 30 views per person today.   

Indeed, potential voters at work are much more likely to be listening to Pandora or checking their Facebook pages or watching YouTube. The ads are clear in their intention: They are more reminder than persuader, meant as a mobilizing force to ensure the Democrats get its base out to vote. (It also helps that Facebook is pushing the election, featuring an "I Voted" button and maps to polling stations.)

Perhaps this last ditch Internet campaigning is why recent estimates for digital spending have been so low. In a recent Facebook-Politico event called "Going Viral, digital strategy experts said many campaigns are spending less than 5% of their budgets online, and far less on mobile ads. But given the DNC’s huge ad buy today, it appears the strategy may have been to wait until election day.

"We're feeling good about our final push," Tran explains.

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