Independent Expenditure Campaigns: Digital Targeting & Messaging

May 16, 2019
Independent expenditure - circle of hands.

Independent Expenditure Campaign Tips for Digital Targeting & Messaging.

Independent expenditure campaigns play a unique role in elections.  Independent campaigns fill gaps campaigns have. These gaps are caused by resources being directed elsewhere. Independent expenditures can help bolster a campaign by targeting audiences with messaging that candidate campaigns either can’t or won’t reach.


Candidate campaigns should have a distinct set of targets they are going after.  Of course, it’s rare that any one candidate campaign can talk to every single voter in their district, so this is where independent expenditure campaigns can play a huge role. As you’re thinking through your digital strategy, think about what target audience the candidate campaign may not be talking to. Could your independent expenditure go after voters who would likely support the candidate but have a lower propensity to vote with a highly persuasive GOTV message? Thinking through alternate target universes is one of the ways independent expenditures can support a candidate campaign’s goals without coordinating with the campaign.

A benefit of digital advertising is the ability to target in ways that you aren’t able to on TV or other mediums. Using this advantage will help fill in gaps that the candidate campaign may have. There may be a few localized parts of a district that aren’t consuming television and may not be targeted by mail. Using geo-fencing technology, you can serve digital ads to those areas, bolstering a candidate campaign’s (likely) phone and canvass efforts.


Another area where independent expenditures can fill gaps that campaigns may have is through messaging. A candidate’s campaign will want to show what their vision is and why they are the best person for the job.   They may not have money to focus on their opponents. Like it or not, independent expenditures often play the role of getting out negative messaging. An independent expenditure often highlight reasons why an opponent is the wrong person for the job. Sending advertising with negative messaging to the right audience can certainly help a candidate during an election.

Outside of negative messaging, an independent expenditure can also message on specific issues. Many organizations will move into election messaging that is in line with the organization’s goals as Election Day gets closer. If you work with an environmental organization, you may run ads that show which candidate will address climate change. If you work for a women’s health organization, you may highlight what candidates will try to take away a woman’s right to choose.

Independent expenditures play a key role in elections. They are able to talk about things in ways candidates aren’t able to. They can focus on key target audiences campaigns can't.  Using digital tactics to accomplish these goals is smart and efficient.

Want to learn more about tips for independent expenditures? Check out Joe’s 5 tips here and drop us any questions you may have below.

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