Winning Digital Ad Campaign: Plan First

by The Campaign Workshop

Two people looking at phones to plan their winning digital ad campaign.

Winning digital ad campaign - start with a plan 

Looking for a winning digital ad campaign? These days every campaign has some kind of digital ad component to it, but how does that result in electoral outcomes? Results vary and really depend on what kind of campaign you’re running. Here are some clear steps to develop a winning digital ad campaign.

Strategy first
Understanding your overall campaign strategy and the role digital plays within that strategy is important. Having a priority about who your campaign needs to reach and what you are trying to do – persuade, turnout, etc. – will make it easier.

Know your goals

Winning is great, but specifically, what are your goals for the digital campaign? Is it getting more names, persuading voters, turnout, engagement of membership? Understanding what metrics will be the judge of a successful campaign will help give you focus.

Have a clear budget

We may all want the digital equivalent of the Obama campaign, but it may not be in the budget this year. Knowing what you can afford is critical to planning. Digital is scalable but understanding what your budget limitations are will help you build a better program.

Know your target

Know who you are reaching and why it matters for your targeting, message and execution of your campaign. Make sure this works with the overall vote goals for your campaign.

Know your message

You need a clear and compelling message for your digital to cut through the noise. Polling and a message box exercise can help you hone in on the right message for your audience.

Understand the medium

Digital advertising isn’t a one size fits all term. It can mean a lot of things to different people. Make sure you’re clear on which digital medium you plan to use (display, video, mobile, etc.) and which platforms you plan to run ads on (programmatic, social, site direct, etc.) and which mix is the right one for your audience.

Digital first creative

Reusing television creative maybe your first inclination but making sure your creative really works for digital is essential for getting the results you want. Especially when it comes to video, it’s important to look at the script from the perspective of the viewer. On digital platforms, people’s attention moves quickly and we sometimes only have 2-4 seconds to make an impression. Beyond digital first make sure your creative is actually creative. Work with your team to have it cut through the noise.

Coordinate with other mediums

Making sure your campaign works holistically with other communications tactics will make for a better campaign overall, allowing your creative to reinforce each other and drive home a more focused message. Make sure you’re in communication with the mail, TV, field, phones and other teams on your campaign to be sure you’re coordinating efforts.

Test and optimize

One of the best aspects of digital ads is the ability to look at metrics in near real time to see what is working and what isn’t. Use this data to continuously improve your digital ad campaign. Testing is also relatively simple on digital. You don’t have to always spend thousands of dollars on a clean, academically sound test. You can run simple A/B tests with your creative and target audiences to glean some insight.

Have questions about building a winning digital ad campaign? Ask them below.