Six Tips: Digital Avertising For Advocacy & Politics

Digital advertising for advocacy & politics

I put this list together as a handout for a digital advertising training at Netroots Nation 2019. To see the list as a one-pager, please download the PDF. What tips would you add to the list?

1. Focus Your Budget

Have clear goals. Most advocacy and electoral campaigns have tight budgets, so focus your ad dollars so that a selected group of people can see your content often. Repetition is key to persuasion and mobilization advertising alike. Tailor channels to the audience(s) you’re trying to reach. Consider looking beyond Facebook to other social platforms or options like banner and video ads, but don’t run a SnapChat campaign unless you’re targeting people who use SnapChat.

2. A/B Test Ad Elements

Test different parts of your online advertising. Sometimes you may just want to see which post among several performs best, but you can also individually test photos, text, videos and targeting parameters. Some platforms (Facebook included) now offer A/B testing natively.

3. Experiment with Different Targeting Options

Beyond location and demographics, you can target people’s “interests”, Facebook Pages or Twitter feeds they follow, job titles/industries/employers (particularly on LinkedIn) and more. Banner and video ads can be targeted via a voter file and many other criteria, and you can reach your own email list (or segments of it) via a Facebook Custom Audience.

4. Take Advantage of Peer Validation on Facebook

Facebook tells users if their friends follow a particular page, so try to build a critical mass of support early in your targeted communities. If you’re reaching out in hostile territory, try using recruiting ads to build your page following before you start running persuasion ads.

5. Tell Your Stories in Several Ways

Different people respond to different forms of content — some people love online videos or cat photos, while others read text. Tell the same story via video, images, infographics or text, and platforms like Facebook will show the different versions to people likely to engage with them.

6. Promote Cross-Channel

When possible, promote your content via different channels reaching the same targets. For example, a campaign targeting a state legislature might run Facebook and LinkedIn ads to legislators/staff, geofenced mobile ads to reach anyone on their phones in the Capitol, ads in insider political publications and physical billboards across the street. Likewise, an advocacy organization trying to mobilize its followers might target its own email list with Facebook Ads designed to encourage supporters to jump on an advocacy action or fundraising message.

For more information, go to or follow @Epolitics on Twitter. Contact Colin Delany at to discuss digital strategy consulting for advocacy & politics.


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Colin Delany
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