The 2012 presidential election might already seem like old news given the 24/7 news cycle, but it's still early days for the analysts figuring out why and how the Obama campaign emerged victorious. One insight to emerge recently: Mobile advertising may have won over crucial voters during a critical period of the campaign.
"We knew we had to be in mobile," Shannon Lee, the campaign's digital lead, told Adweek. "The work we did there was exciting because we felt it was directly impacting the election."
The campaign leveraged mobile video ads aggressively to combat a rising tide of support for the GOP's Mitt Romney. During October and November, mobile ads from the Obama campaign won click-through rates ranging from 3 percent to 19.5 percent.
These click-through rates are impressive, but the campaign was not just focused on engaging an audience. It needed conversions, in the form of votes for the incumbent president. To this end, Lee and her team showed a strong grasp on how to best utilize mobile ads. They ran dynamic ads with substantive messages to persuade viewers to support the Democratic candidate---not donate to his campaign.
Lee recognized that people watching an ad on a smartphone or tablet might not be in a position to easily retrieve and enter a credit card number, so she focused on providing top-notch content that would resonate with viewers up until they were in the voting booth.
Brands could take away a lesson here: Match the advertising content to the platform, and don't be afraid to provide in-depth and inspiring messaging rather than short, aggressive sales pitches prompting viewers to make an immediate purchase.
Obama's mobile strategy was on target
In addition to choosing the right kind of content for its mobile ads, the Obama campaign took advantage of the targeting features baked in to digital advertising.
In particular, the ads ran in swing states like Ohio, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado, and were published on the mobile sites of some major news organizations like CNN, the Miami Herald, and the Denver Post, as well as on popular sites like Pandora and The Weather Channel. The campaign also targeted particular demographics, The Adweek article said "young, female and Hispanic voters" were particularly sought after.
The Obama campaign's use of mobile video ads to present rich and persuasive content to bilingual viewers may have been both effective in winning votes and ahead of the curve from an ad industry perspective. We recently highlighted VentureBeat's prediction that video advertisers will embrace longer form content and will try to reach more Spanish speakers in 2013.