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How political campaigns are using contextual insights to reach more voters

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How political campaigns are using contextual insights to reach more voters

With midterm elections coming up, political campaigns are pulling out all the stops to reach voters in the shifting digital landscape. Strategists are having to navigate a new set of privacy data restrictions, different but similar to those facing non-political marketers. How? With contextual data, just like the rest of us.

It used to be that campaign strategists could easily target likely voters on Facebook based on candidates and issues they followed. But this has changed.

“In both January and March [Facebook] placed restrictions on what variables you can target by – in short, nothing related to health, sexual orientation, religion, political beliefs and so on,” said Craig Becher, senior director of channel partnerships for audience discovery and managed services company Hybrid Theory. “Therefore, you are no longer able to, let’s say, select Joe Biden as an account that you want to target followers of.”

Instead, campaigns have to rely on voter files – databases that connect publicly available information to registered voters across the country. (How voters voted in past elections, however, remains private.)

“Outside of the voter file, targeting based on those following an elected official, organization, or cause were the main variables selected to reach the intended audience…all of that is gone now,” said Becher.

Expanding the audience for a political campaign

In the current cycle, political advertisers are looking to gain a competitive advantage by expanding their audiences beyond voter files.

“Voter files don’t give you everyone and won’t help you expand your voting population beyond who’s already voted before,” said Jones. “So the question is how you intelligently reach people beyond that, and understanding what issues they’re reading, the type of content they’re exposed to, and how they’re thinking about those issues is key to messaging to them effectively.”

“The voter file isn’t dead, but people really want to move away from that because it’s a finite pool of individuals,” said Becher. “Political advertisers are coming to us asking how to use contextual relevances, like general marketers in the private sector would.”

He added, “It’s fairly intuitive to find shoe shoppers. But targeting nuances around inflation, health care or other issues, that’s where the art meets the science.”

The amount of overlap indicated by the data also suggests that voters aren’t as locked into news silos and “echo chambers” as some talking heads on TV might have you believe.

“[The data] shows the massive overlap between conservative and liberal news sources, underlining both the nature of how people browse and also how many people are still persuadable and not reading one outlet only as their source of truth,” said Jones.

It might take more digging to find persuadable voters, but there is treasure to be found in contextual insights.

Identifying key issues

If political campaigns can’t target directly through the politicians and issues that voters follow on social, they have to target contextually. They look to content and programming that relates to key issues, and they message the voters by advertising around that content. 

The challenge for campaigns is how to determine what issues are important to their key voters. There is a lot of overlap between issues and news sources, as anybody can see from the data Hybrid Theory assembled for the 2022 election cycle.

How political campaigns are using contextual insights to reach more
Image: Hybrid Theory.

Keeping up with the news

Because of the polarized political climate, key issues are more volatile than ever. For instance, this data was taken in May, just after a draft of a Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark abortion rights Roe v. Wade decision was leaked. But the data was taken before a string of mass shootings that have fueled more recent gun law debates.

“The roughest thing about all this is that while predicting the key issues has always been difficult, it was at least something you could ballpark in 2016 and 2018,” said Robert Jones, vice president, research and insights for Hybrid Theory. “COVID and Black Lives Matter absolutely shattered that in 2020.”

Prior to last month’s SCOTUS decision leak and the nightmare swarm of mass shootings,it looked like the economy was going to be the top issue. Topics like inflation and job seeking, in the above chart, show overlap across many areas of the political spectrum. Liberal, centrist and conservative news sources were all covering inflation and jobs, as well as the Roe v. Wade issue.

“While [the economy] is always a central issue among all politicians, there’s so much more on the table right now that it makes understanding the landscape much more complicated and difficult,” said Jones. “The Roe leak may completely change the electoral map and political strategies and put fire into the bellies of a lot of the suburban moms who were previously thought to be lost to the Dems for the midterm cycle.”

Read next: IAS introduces new contextual targeting Control Panel

Improving efficiency by weeding out hate-watching

Complicated news viewing habits add another layer of complexity. People “hate watch” news sources they virulently disagree with. For instance, there’s a band of overlap between liberal news sources and content labeled “anti-vaccine news sources.”

Identifying these overlaps gives political strategists additional insights about the voters they intend to target. A liberal candidate might conclude that within the audience of traditional liberal news sources, there are a number of conservative, or otherwise anti-vax, viewers who are hate-watching the liberal news coverage about the pandemic. This means they have to find other signals to weed out the hate-readers when they advertise to the liberal news audience. Otherwise, they’re wasting resources.

Above all, it’s important with a limited campaign budget to weigh the importance of issues. Critical race theory, according to the Hybrid Theory data, was not as significant an issue once the Supreme Court draft decision was leaked, giving much more coverage to reproductive rights.

Advertising to voters is high-stakes, but it involves many of the same channels and analytics strategies as consumer marketing. Political strategists are catching up to this fact and adopting more tactics from the consumer marketing playbook this time around.


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About The Author

datafuelX launches predictive analytics solutions to improve linear TV anddatafuelX launches predictive analytics solutions to improve linear TV and
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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