Ready? Set? GOTV via Online Advertising

C is for cookie, that's good enough for me

Great advice from regular contributor Laura Packard. This post first appeared on the PowerThru Consulting blog.

Election Day is less than a week away (although with runoffs, who knows!). Say you still have some funds, but hardly any time. what can you do online to win? Here’s how to spend a last minute budget online to woo likely voters to vote for your candidate, or remind your supporters to get out and vote. Hat tip to Colin @ for his post, gave me the inspiration to write this.

1. Go where the voters are. In the last few days of the election, this is when voters are most likely to be doing research to figure out how they want to vote. This means you’ll want to be easily found on Search Engines. If somebody living in your district googles your name, or “election”, “voting” etc., will they see your message? It’s probably too late at this time to do much in the way of search engine optimization, but as long as you have more than a day’s notice it’s never too late for online advertising. A simple, cheap and affordable Google search campaign can help. Geotarget it just to the district to keep costs low and make your funds go farther. Coupons for Google Adwords are fairly easy to find online too, just shout if you need one and we can hook you up.

2. If you have the funds, you can go wider to reach your potential voters as they surf the web: expanding your Google Adwords campaign out beyond search to include the Google content network. You can target specific news and information sites like perhaps,,, local newspaper websites where your voters might be, or use cookie targeting to “haunt” people after they visit your website, wherever they go next (remind them to go vote for your candidate, point to a polling place locator etc).

3. If you have a large budget, you can look at doing a Google Network Blast, which is basically taking over the google content network online inventory in that particular district for the day. Costly, but hard to miss if you’re in the district. This means your ads will show up nearly everywhere on the internet that day as people in the district go about their daily business. Note that this can cut both ways — because you will certainly be reaching people who oppose your candidate and perhaps motivating them to vote too.

4. Often a more effective way to use a large budget is to work with a firm like DS Political that does voter-file targeted display ads. This way you are targeting specific voters rather than delivering your message to people on both sides of the divide. You’ll need a fairly large budget and timeline to pull this off though. [Ed. note: these are usually cookie-targeted via a voter-file match.]

5. Got a large budget but not enough time to work with an outside vendor for voter-file targeted display ads? Roll your own! DSPolitical has a brand-new 24/7 self-serve tool up here for last-minute campaigns: [Ed. note: a couple of the Republican firms have self-serve ad platforms now, too.]

6. You can also do effective affordable outreach with Facebook and Twitter self-serve advertising: targeting people in your district who already like you/follow you, or people in your district who are Democrats, like liberal politics etc. Or set cookies on your website and then keep talking to those people via Facebook and Twitter advertising, reminding them to GO VOTE and FIND THEIR POLLING PLACE.

Note: Make sure to set end dates on all ad campaigns! You don’t want the meter to keep running past Election Day, the campaign could face a horrific bill.

Have more questions about a last-minute GOTV online ad campaign? Contact PowerThru and we can help.

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Laura Packard
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