Since the start of this political season, the rage among a lot of online political advertisers is buying online ads using matched voter file (that's taking the an email file and matching them with a publisher). Nearly every ad buy I put together usually ends up with a discussion whether I want to use voter file matched cookies which I answer with umm no. Why would I want to use that garbage? Their answer is, well, the CPMs are only 20% higher plus you know that you are targeting known Republicans, plus everyone else is doing it. I don't buy that everyone is doing it, but...
My answer is still no. Waste of money. Waste of time, plus SURPRISE I have more experience with political online ad buying, especially voter file marketing. It's nothing new.
Now before I continue my bash let me explain that I have nothing against companies that supply the data to match, nor do I have any issue with Facebook's new marketing (I'm bullish on that). I do think there is demand from newer political online marketers who only want to target known Republicans because that's how they've been doing it in direct mail since 1975. Anyway, here's why it is foolish.
I started doing political advertising back in 2006. Back then, we supplied AOL and Yahoo with Republican voter files. I never successfully completed a match with MSN because they were too slow and required too much of either an upfront fee OR a large guaranteed ad buy. We used voter file marketing for McCain's Presidential run.
The CPMs were higher and the results, well, let's just say that the results were not 20% better. In fact, I got better results with running Google Display Ads fired off via keywords than any data file match. So, it was a waste of money and certainly my time when I'd rather focus on content where my ads appeared. Of course by 2012 with so many new targeting networks people have forgotten what worked or didn't work in the past. So, if I don't like voter file marketing, what do I like doing:
ERIC'S FAVORITE 1:1 MARKETING TECHNIQUES IN 2012
- Build your own retargeting audience in Google or AdRoll. Yes build your own. People that click on your ads, visit your website, donate, etc. You know what? Other than the money it costs to run ads, it's free to build your audience.
- Build your own voter file targeting in FB. Load up your own email list to FB and let FB anonymously match your files and build an audience for you. Why is this better than the big voter file match? It's YOUR OWN LIST and it's free.
- Email marketing (yeah that still works real well)
- Google Search - why? These are people looking for your message or YOU.
- Content Targeting - match your choice keywords with content so your ads appear when the content makes sense. You know why that works? Because it is cost effective.
- Facebook interest targeting - it's the best out there and cheap.
A pure voter file marketing campaign is the last thing I'd buy. If I had branding dollars, I'd move to partners like Twitter, Pandora, Hulu, and YouTube before I'd spend a dime on a pure voter file buy.
Is voter file marketing all the rage? I don't care and neither should you.