OFA Joins the Gunfight, Targets Congressmembers with Local Digital Media Ads

The new Organizing For Action, the successor organization to Obama’s 2012 grassroots army, turns its fire on Republican Congressmembers over gun-purchase background checks, as first reported by USA Today. The weapon? Online ads on websites likely to be widely read within their districts:

The ads, which include the legislators’ photos and Twitter handles, are running on local-news Web sites in lawmakers’ home districts. The ads, which officials said cost close to $100,000, represent the first paid media campaign by Organizing for Action (OFA), the nonprofit group formed last month to harness Obama’s campaign apparatus in support of his legislative agenda.

In this case, the ultimate targets are the legislators themselves, but the mechanism is public pressure — by placing the ads on obvious, public sites rather than using cookie-targeting or zip-code targeting to reach voters behind the scenes, OFA ensures that journalists, bloggers and activists will see them. And likely, they’ll talk about them.

OFA inherits from its 2012 predecessor the tactic of using media outlets to a add local emphasis to its online outreach, since the campaign’s digital marketers often used home-page “takeovers” of a state’s top newspaper websites, for instance on the first day of early voting in a state. Local websites are often relatively cheap to dominate, meaning that a determined advertiser can make a splash and influence relevant conversations for at low cost. Including the lawmakers’ faces makes the whole thing that much more personal. Including their Twitter addresses encourages local OfA members and others to leverage the ads by tweeting their messages at the individual lawmakers.

Of course, these ads won’t suppress National Rifle Association counter-fire — expect local pro-gun activists to respond with a barrage of missives on Twitter, Facebook and every other modern battleground they can find.


Written by
Colin Delany
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