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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