Recent changes by Facebook involving the promotion and targeting of political ads illustrates the importance of marketers owning their own first-party data. The use of first-party data is critical to truly understand audience behaviors as well as establishing scalable high-conversion segments. In the ever-shifting social media landscape, relying on your own first-party data also puts the control where it should be — with you.
Political Marketing Remains A Hot-Button Issue As Facebook Changes Their Structure For Accepting Political Ads
“Sales employees are no longer paid based on reaching or exceeding goals related to ads purchased promoting either a candidate or politically tinged messages in the U.S. and abroad,” said Katie Harbath, Global Elections Public Policy Director at Facebook.
The change in commission payouts has likely happened for a number of reasons, not least of which is the scrutiny Facebook has undergone since the 2016 election. Among the actions being second-guessed is Facebook’s prior policy of providing campaigns with embedded Facebook employees who “offered extensive advertising advice,” including creative and copy for targeted ads. Facebook’s change to commission policies is an attempt to mitigate the perception of ad spending incentives and embrace their political engagement as a civic responsibility.
Political campaigns that want to advertise on Facebook will now rely on the mostly self-service, ad-buying platform. Some candidates still have access to additional help, however the guidelines for that haven’t been made public. Variables that all marketers aren’t privy to are among the many reasons marketers should generate their own first-party data, where the messaging isn’t impacted by the ongoing changes and unwritten rules of third-party providers.
Other platform changes in recent years that could impact who sees your ads include Instagram’s move to a non-chronological timeline, Twitter’s crackdown on bot accounts leading to the deletion of more than a million accounts and the “friends and family” timeline changes at Facebook. These social media updates may be in response to audiences losing interest in social media over privacy concerns and the flood of unwanted “organic” advertising in news feeds. But the constant shifting winds means marketers can’t assume algorithms are going to stay consistent enough for impactful ad reach and frequency when planning campaign strategies. Despite 77% of marketers using at least one social media platform as a part of their marketing strategies, only 48% report demonstrable ROI from the implementations. Targeted messaging using first-party data can be much more effective and offers consistency.
Effective Marketing By Political Campaigns Involves Consistent, Targeted Outreach
The market for political digital advertising is growing dramatically. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article on the changes at Facebook, “Political digital advertising jumped to $1.4 billion in 2016 from $159 million in 2012. It is projected to hit $3.3 billion in 2020.” The rise of social media and reliance on digital advertising can account for much of the growth, but the success of prior digitally-focused political campaigns is evidence that digital works, especially when it is effectively targeted to create lasting, personal relationships with voters.
In 2008, Barack Obama sent 7,000 customized emails. By 2012, the campaign had tailored its efforts at personalization and maximizing the Obama brand so efficiently that the campaign saw a 49% uplift in donations over 2008 and a 161% increase in sign-up conversions. The Obama campaign often approached its emails and direct messaging as if they were telling a story about the journey of the campaign — using micro-targeting derived from first-party data to understand their audience geographically, behaviorally and demographically made this kind of outreach an effective tool.
Generate Your Own Data With Verified, Opt-In Audiences That Offer Growth And Drive Conversions
The rise of privacy concerns has initiated a lot of opportunities for first-party data. In an atmosphere where compliance laws are evolving, data acquisition has become more transparent and the data collected from audiences who opt-in more reliable. Audiences who subscribe, whether on partner websites or properties owned and operated by brands or candidates, are agreeing to share their information and behaviors. This intentional opt-in is significant because it means they want to hear from brands, and these subscribers are more likely to convert or donate to candidates. In the long term, audience segments created from first-party data are more valuable than third-party sources, and they can be leveraged repeatedly for success.
Data acquisition shouldn’t be entirely dependent on organic visits to your website. Strategic partnerships that drive traffic to your website or offer reliable, scalable data from opt-in forms on their own sites are valuable acquisition techniques.
A Strong Messaging And Multi-Channel Strategy Creates Audience Relationships That Can Be Accessed When You Need Them
By generating and optimizing first-party data for use in email and SMS campaigns, relationships with your audiences can be more precise and feel more personal, instead of intrusive. This informed and knowledgeable personalization should extend across channels, both to maintain contact with your audiences and because your audiences are also multi-channel users who expect to see your brand across devices. By owning your first-party data, consumer outreach is more easily accomplished and offers opportunities for brands, including political campaigns, to more effortlessly navigate around the constant changes in algorithms and policies of third-party providers.