It’s not too late to advertise online

Originally published November 2, 2012

Sitting on some last-minute dollars? You still have online options.

Grappling with how to spend that last-minute infusion of cash? Digital strategists say there are still plenty of options online, even in the final 72 hours of the campaign.

“Now is not the time to be cautious,” says Republican digital strategist Vincent Harris. “Campaigns shouldn’t be concerned about sending too many emails or tweeting too much. I think people are too timid with advertising and pushing people to the polls at the end of the campaign.”

While the clock has nearly run out when it comes to any form of sophisticated online targeting, it’s not too late to reach voters online via search ads, online display advertising and even mobile ads.

“I think mobile is where people will be focused,” says Taryn Rosenkranz, who heads New Blue Interactive. “This is one that a lot of campaigns didn’t budget for so it’s a good late option.”

Mobile search, she says, can be particularly effective. Plenty of voters will be searching for information on down ballot candidates over the final weekend—some of them will still be using their phones to search for info when they’re standing in line at the polls on Tuesday.

“Search traffic is extraordinary right now, and it’s going to explode on Election Day,” says Harris. Before casting an early vote in Texas, Harris says even he was on his phone searching for information on some of the 10 local propositions on the ballot.

When it comes to search, Harris says campaigns should look to Bing and Yahoo in addition to Google.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just sent out a memo to Democratic House campaigns detailing some online options for the final hours. Among them: mobile advertising, search ads and even pre-roll video.

While the vast majority of the premium pre-roll inventory is gone by this point, Rosenkranz says it’s still a viable late option for campaigns.

“Targeting pre-roll is fantastic, but at this stage you just want as many eyes on the ads as you can get,” Rosenkranz says. “If you’ve got the money and you can’t get it on TV, you should definitely consider pre-roll.”

Direct online ad buys on the sites of local publications are another option, according to Chris Massicotte of DSPolitical. Even some forms of online targeting are still viable at this late stage, he says, but if campaigns want to employ cookie-based targeting or targeting via Facebook, they need to act now.

“The simple name recognition display ad can be effective at this point,” adds Massicotte. “Email is important, too. I don’t think you’re changing any minds with an email on Monday morning, but you are making sure your people get out and vote.”