Hundreds of millions of dollars will be spent by “outside” groups this political cycle.

When you add in candidates and committees, we’re talking billions. Learn more about how online ads surpass broadcast TV here.

And just like everything else, political campaigns are won and lost at the margins. Increasingly, those margins will come in the digital space. InTheCapital relays research showing a major increase in digital spending by candidates and other electioneers.

While TV spending will also increase, traditional viewership is down. Spending on robo-calls and direct mail is not expected to grow. That means the battleground for eyes and ears will take place somewhere else – banners, social, pre-roll, video ads, email, and other places we haven’t even thought of yet.

Digital Media is Not Mass-Media

Everyone knows Team Obama crushed digital in 2008 and 2012. Particularly their ability to get promoters to do their work for them. Think about it: instead of talking to one voter at a time over the phone, a campaign could get 10 supporters to share their ad or materials with 10 of their friends each on social media. Talk about ROI. It’s a process the libertarian group FreedomWorks calls “digital door-knocking.”

But it’s not just that, it’s the ability to micro-target. It’s the ability to get a tailored message that will move specific people on a specific issue at a specific time through a specific medium. Everything can be customized. Effectiveness can be tracked down to the penny. It’s not just more effective, it’s more accountable.

Has your opponent slammed you on TV? You can respond to their buckshot tactic with laser-focused responses in key demographics. Is your opponent already targeting you in specific subsets? Follow them and target these viewers with your defense or counter.

And don’t think the Obama campaigns were a fluke because of their youth support. 71% of online adults use Facebook. 49% of adults over 65 use social media. These numbers will continue to grow as more retailers and services expand their online reach.

Campaigns need to follow suit.

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Last week, Intermarkets’ new creative copywriter attended the Digital East conference in Tysons, Virginia. He compiled these top 5 marketing insights from the digital east conference for marketers.

Have you been using these strategies and ideas? Do you have anything to add? Let us know!

Digital East Top 5 Insights Banner

  1. Be Media Agnostic

For most marketers, the platforms you utilize to publish or advertise are means, not ends. While your tactics need to reflect each specific platform, your strategy doesn’t really change. At the end of the day, B2C marketers use platforms to drive conversions, and B2B marketers generate leads.

It’s vitally important to take advantage of the strengths and weaknesses of the platforms you are using, whether it’s Facebook, AdWords, or WordPress. But all of these platforms have one thing in common: you use them to spread your message. You need to go where your consumers are, and that means using the mediums that work for your audience, not the ones you like best.

  1. Is There a Knowledge Problem?

Marketers know they need to speak to the level of their audience, but this is easier said than done. We deal with our areas of expertise all day, every day. But do our customers? Is there a simple, yet crucial piece of information we’re leaving out, simply because to us, it’s elementary?

Take a look at your communications with your clients and leads. You may be missing just one small piece that can really improve your business.

  1. Consumers Can be Creators and Brands, Too

In the past, creators, consumers, and brands were all more or less distinct. Today, that line is blurring like never before. Social media allows consumers to become creators. Creators can become popular enough to become a recognized brand identity. Heck, people and companies can be all three.

To know your audience, it’s important to understand the different roles they play as well as how they see themselves. This also makes sense for B2B firms. After all, businesses that are customers are also creators.

  1. Don’t Talk To. Converse With.

“New” media, (read: social) allows for a two-way conversation between producers and consumers in real-time and in public. It’s both a major challenge as well as a golden opportunity to grow your business and connect with your customers in new ways.

As Robin Wheeler of Twitter pointed out, 63% of customers reported more positive attitudes towards brands that simply engaged with them on social media. Companies are just groups of people. Don’t present yourself as a faceless monolith. You understand your audience, you engage in voluntary exchanges with your customers, so talk to them! Which leads us to the final insight:

  1. H2H

You may have heard this already, but human-to-human is the new buzzword. But it’s more than just a buzzword. It’s a way of thinking about your business and your customers, and it’s the way you want your customers to think about you. It’s the basic premise that, at the end of the day, all interactions take place between individuals.

When John Doe buys a widget from the Widget Company, he’s buying a product that was designed by people, marketed by people, and sold by people. Obvious, right? But the Widget Company is after more than John’s dollars. WC, whether they want to or not, needs to please John. They need to please John to keep him as a customer, to protect their reputation, and to promote their product.

What’s more, is that the people who comprise WC want to please John. They want to because he’s a person, and they are people. They expect the same when they act as consumers. Nobody wants to deal with a brand logo.

We’ll have more on this, but the bottom line is your customers want to know there’s a person on the other end, not a robot.

In 1963, David Ogilvy wrote Confessions of an Advertising Man. No doubt you’ve heard of it. More than likely, you have a well-worn copy on your desk right now.

Ogilvy would have been the first to tell you that he wasn’t a particularly talented copywriter. His genius shone through his strategy—his strategy was to find out what worked and use it. Much of what he wrote in 1963 still applies today.

Native Ads > Banner Ads

Advertorial Image
Credit to David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather

This infographic from Sharethrough showcases the power of native ads. In fact, native ads outperform banner ads in nearly every category: 52% more views, 18% higher purchase intent, a 13% increase in word-of-mouth sharing, and so on.

Of course, David Ogilvy said the same thing in 1963: “There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 per cent more readers.”

Today the principle remains the same, even if the statistics have evolved.

Generally speaking, prospective consumers don’t like ads. But if you can make your ads look like editorials, you’re going to see a much higher success rate. Back in 2013, native ads led banner ads in viewer frequency, views overall, and brand favorability to name a few.

In short, native ads will get you more eyes and more conversions more often.

This Section is About Descriptive Headlines

Recently, Facebook declared war on click-bait headlines. It turns out, 80% of Facebook users want a descriptive headline. They want to know what they’re actually clicking on.

Back in 1963, Ogilvy told us a few things about headlines. First, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” According to Copyblogger, this statistic is still true. The reason for Facebook’s change is simple: click-bait headlines take readers away from substantive content. Sure, you might get a million eyes on your “Guess What Happened Next” headline, but you won’t get conversions or subscribers.

Descriptive headlines, on the other hand, tell the reader exactly what they’re in for. If you make readers guess what the ad is about, you’re wasting time and money.

Second, “Never use tricky or irrelevant headlines… People read too fast to figure out what you are trying to say.” This style works for outlets like The Onion, but most of the time it won’t work for your Senate election or your product promotion. Your headline should draw people to your content because they want to go there. This consumer intent is key to strong conversions and loyal subscribers.

 “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” — David Ogilvy

Make your headline about something. Don’t alienate or upset customers you haven’t even won over yet.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge will face its own challenges.

Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a monster success? Yes, and maybe. If you use the Internet, you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge. Participants record themselves pouring ice water over their heads, donate to an ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) charity, and pass it on by challenging others publicly, by name.

On its face, the challenge is a huge success in terms of engagement and short-term fundraising, as Emily Alford relates over at ClickZ. In less than a month, the ALS Association increased fundraising 10-fold over last year during the same time period.

It’s not hard to understand why. The challenge is everywhere. It’s fun. It’s fresh. It’s on your social media, your email inbox, and on TV news. The amount of money donated so far is simply put, staggering.

But there could be a serious drawback to the, perhaps first (or at least biggest) decentralized viral fundraising drive. While the Ice Bucket Challenge is totally individual-driven and doesn’t require direction from some central source, it also doesn’t seem to have the attributes we normally see in campaigns with staying power.

Challenges ahead

The Ice Bucket Challenge is built around the challenge, not the problem its being used to solve. The challenge itself makes only brief, if any, reference to ALS. Participants may learn more about ALS and current research if they read up on it while donating, but where is the emotional buy-in?

Such sudden success will need aggressive, relevant remarketing campaigns for first-time donors—ones that focus donors on ALS itself. Long-term projects like scientific research require long-term, steady funds more than short mega-bursts of cash. That means a plan to retain and cultivate as many first-time donors as possible.

What it means is stewardship, and a marketing strategy to make it happen.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is brilliant. But for the sake of ALS victims, fundraising should not dry up next year. Expect to read much more about remarketing and branding strategies for ALS research when the Ice Bucket Challenge runs out of steam.