Friday, June 8, 2012

Campaign Mobile Use Increases as Voters Tune Out Radio and TV Ads


Geotargeted texting used in WI to engage ad overloaded voters. 

With the rough and tumble Republican primary just winding down and the general election campaigning already in full swing between President Obama and Governor Romney, even before he has been officially selected by the GOP delegates, many voters are already showing signs of dueling ad war battle fatigue.

And, if the Wisconsin recall election of Governor Walker is any indication of what the next five months are going to be like on a national level, we are in for a lot of loud noise.

The Wisconsin election on June 5 was just that – loud – robocalls, TV commercials, radio commercials, direct mail pieces, more robocalls, and more TV commercials.  Each election year candidates and political groups spend more and more on getting their message out.  Each election year voters hear more.      

Years ago candidate campaigns were doing the ads.  Today we have the campaigns, unions, political action committees (PACs), Super PACs, and various special interest groups doing ads and get out the vote (GOTV) campaigns.

What if the electorate is on overload and has tuned out?   All but the political junkies in Wisconsin stopped reading newspapers, unplugged their phones, fast forwarded through TV ads, turned off their TVs, turned off their radios, and looked away from social media networking sites and online media. 

At what point is enough enough?  At what point does it all turn into white noise – or just noise?

The money being spent is astronomical.  It is estimated that $66 Million was spent on the June 5 Wisconsin election alone.  It is estimated $6 Billion will be spent on the 2012 presidential race.  It is expensive.  There is little way to gage the actual return on investment (ROI) in real terms.

Is it worth it?  Does any of it change the mind of voters or get a lot of potential voters that do not normally vote to the polls?  Is the messaging personal enough to be a call to action?  Is it in a format that voters want to hear it? 

Times have changed.  Not all political campaigns have, but they should.  Approximately 35%, or one-third, of Americans no longer have landline phones and 35% do not watch live TV anymore.   Time –shifting is changing the way consumers accept information. 

Politicians must now become more creative and in-touch with how voters consume campaign messaging.  The challenge for today's digital campaign strategist is how to leverage technology to gain an advantage.  The early adopters will gain a decided advantage.

Political advertising, whether by the candidate or groups outside the actual campaign, must understand the consumer, the voter, has changed.  They no longer will put up with being yelled at in advertising. 

Voters want to be engaged.  Those wanting to engage them hopefully message them with a more targeted approach than in the past and with something that is important and interesting to them – something that will engage them to support the candidate, talk about the candidate, perhaps donate, and certainly vote for them.

Technology is anything but stagnant, and the newest social media tool momentum is the mobile application.   Just like Facebook and Twitter in the 2008 political campaigns, mobile apps are the latest “must have” in reaching out and “touching and engaging” potential voters and supporters.

June 2 article in Mobile Marketer, the news leader in mobile marketing, media, and commerce, detailed why mobile marketing is a good tool for engagement and value. It provides, “By creating mobile-only search campaigns, advertisers benefit in several areas such as control, messaging, targeting and reporting.

It explains, “Geotargeting has become an important part of the mobile search experience. It is a great added value for consumers and a big opportunity for advertisers.”
“Mobile advertisers can geotarget in the same way they target their desktop campaigns: by country, state, metro, city or custom ranges.”

Political campaigns are catching on to the benefits of spending their money more wisely.  Geotargeting by district, state, and issue help combat voter ad fatigue and meets the need to engage voters with something they is meaningful to them.  

Campaign Touch CEO, Cami Zimmer works with political candidate clients in this environment every day.  She began her career working at The White House in Washington, D.C.  For over a decade, Ms. Zimmer worked on public policy issues, managed campaigns, and ran non-profit organizations.

Campaign Touch was founded on the idea of helping create powerful campaigns through the use of technology.  They have partnered with the nation's best mobile companies for app development and SMS (text) campaigns and surveys.  Zimmer brings her knowledge of digital and mobile communications to assist political consultants and candidates, PACs, non-profit organizations, ad agencies and businesses.

She explains, “Tradition media, while necessary on most levels, has the strategy of ‘Spray and Pray’ - throw a bunch of ads out there and hope and pray they hit the right audience.   It is expensive.  There is little way to gage the ROI.” 

Zimmer shakes her head when noting, “Many Minneapolis/St. Paul people were flooded with TV commercials and radio commercials during the Wisconsin election - and they can't vote there!  What a waste of money.”

Campaign Touch ran mobile ads for a client during the Wisconsin election.  Zimmer details, “Mobile ads were strategically targeted in a Senate district in Wisconsin.  In a five day mobile campaign, we were able to hit voters 4-8 times with an ad for the candidate.  We had 471,105 views, 2,914 clicks, and a .62% click through rate.”

Many large companies are using mobile advertising to strategically zone in on their advertising.  With Campaign Touch’s campaign and elections specialty, they are showing their clients how to successfully use mobile to reach voters.  Zimmer adds, “We are showing clients an option at extremely less money than traditional marketing and providing a ROI. 

She summarizes, “Mobile is great for the GOTV as 98% of Americans carry a mobile phone.  It is perfect for GOTV.   And keep in mind that 50% of mobile traffic comes after 5pm - as people are driving home from work.  Campaign Touch is happy that campaigns are finally starting to see how mobile can work in campaigns.  Our clients engage voters!”

Are you among those that have not tuned out and cannot get enough?  Do you find who is buying ads and what the main issues are in the ads interesting?  Track ad spending during the primaries and general election here.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is Big Government Spending Out and Fiscal Responsibility Back In 2012?


Francis X. Becker
U.S. Congressional District NY4 Challenger Fran Becker talks about what middle class Americans really want.  

One conclusion that may be drawn in the 7 point recall election victory of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker yesterday is voters want balanced budgets and lower taxes.  Another may be voters, even in a solid blue state, have rejected the cost of big government and excessive demands of public unions.   

In crisis public relations mode Democrats may downplay these realities blaming big corporate money’s influence in the Wisconsin election.  At the same time they ignore the big union money’s influence in the same election on their side.

Former President Bill Clinton recently had favorable comments on Romney’s Bain Capital business experience and on extending the Bush tax cuts for at least another year in direct opposition to the Obama campaign messaging.

Like Mayor Cory Booker walked back his favorable comments on Bain Capital and capitalism, Clinton walked back the tax cut extension talk shortly after he said it.  It is impossible to un-ring a bell though. 

While many politicians in Washington, and some states like California and Illinois, continue minimizing the effects of huge annual deficit spending, it appears voters understand the danger zone.  Voters, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed, also comprehend the effects of the rapidly increasing national debt on the health of the economy and a true recession recovery as well as the global value of the American dollar.

Are bigger government programs out in 2012?  Is fiscal responsibility, no matter the pain of austerity measures and far left raging, in?  Will Americans reflect they really are not Europeans after all in culture and mindset?

U.S. Congressional New York District 4 challenger Francis Becker thinks so.  He shares his thoughts on what middle class Americas want and the fiscal reform that is needed.  
   
BKH: Has there been any major changes in the demographics of NY4 with the political redistricting?

FB: As a result of the 2012 re-apportionment, the geography of NY4 has moved east here on Long Island, changing the demographics and political makeup of the district.

While the district still leans Democrat, there are significantly less Democrats now in the new district than the old district.  Also, the geography of the district has shifted away from areas along the New City border that overwhelmingly (80%) vote Democrat and into areas that for the past 10 years that have voted overwhelmingly for Republican Congressman Pete King and for Republican members of the state legislature.

BKH: Have these demographic changes had an effect on the focus or politics of the NY4 district?

FB: Long Island is a quintessential suburban community whose values, in political lingo, are center right.  The Nassau population is also highly educated and well versed in the issues.  The new district, largely comprised of middle class families, will be more responsive than ever before to the Republican message of growing the economy, creating jobs, and reducing spending and taxes.       

BKH: From your day-to-day interaction with the NY4 community, what do the residents tell you they care about most?

FB: I am a financial planner and on a daily basis I work with families from all demographics and walks of life as they plan for their futures and for their children’s futures.  I hear the same worries and concerns from just about all of them of not being able to save enough money for retirement or for their children’s education. 

They are concerned about the security of their jobs and making ends meet.  In the past, only on occasion, would I counsel a person who had lost their job or was in between jobs.  Now, and for the past three years, I am doing this on a regular basis. 

Before even getting to the planning part of our meeting they will express their worries wondering if the economy will ever improve and will there be better days ahead.  Invariably they also express their concerns about the future of our country and the national deficit and what impact it will have on their children and future generations.

Nassau County is also one of the highest taxed counties in the nation, and they are fed up with taxes.

As someone who cares very much about my community, it takes a great toll on me to see people suffering like this.  It makes me angry because I feel it does not have to be this way.  As a person well versed in finances, I clearly see the policy failures that have created this economically devastating scenario in our country today.  

BKH: What are the top challenges in your district?

FB: There are three top challenges.  The first is to build a strong economy and provide a secure economic future for individuals and their families.  The second is to reduce the onerous tax burdens that are making it very difficult for the average family to pay their bills including property taxes.  The third is to reduce the national debt and restore confidence that future generations can have the same or better standard of living than people enjoy today and of those of prior generations.

As has been documented in the media and by economists, they say that for young people today, this may be the very first time in the history of our country that their economic outlook will not be as good or better than the prior generation. For young people today, this is a tragic notion and we must do something about it.    

BKH: What are the types of meaningful solutions you propose for these challenges?

FB: The first step is to remember, as the various Socialist governments of the past and present demonstrate so clearly, that government-controlled economies do not work.  If we want our economy to grow, we cannot impose more government regulations and controls on the private sector. 

Instead, we need to unshackle our economy from the burdensome taxes, government regulations and red tape that are strangling our economy.

Second, we must learn from the Solyndra disaster and the billions of tax dollars that have been wasted propping up the green-energy movement that government should never be involved in picking the winners and losers in an economy or industry.  When market forces are best at work, an economy will thrive. 

As is also evidenced by the failed trillion dollar stimulus packages, government programs will never create a strong economy and only wastes tax dollars as well as robbing necessary capital from the private sector to finance new businesses and expand and grow existing ones.

Third, we must remember that no country has ever taxed its way to prosperity.  Just look at the problems many states have in our country today.  The states with the highest taxes and largest bureaucracies with governments that place onerous regulations and red tape on their businesses are shedding jobs, watching their deficits grow and watching their economies shrink. 

Meanwhile, the states with low taxes and streamlined operations that welcome businesses are seeing their economies flourish and their revenues grow.

Fourth, we must address our national deficit before it is too late and we have saddled our children with a burden they can never escape.

Fifth, we must stop running our country for the benefit of the public employee unions, the teachers union and special interests.  Until we do, we will never be able to bring the cost of government in line with what taxpayers can afford. 

Sixth, we must stop our reliance on foreign oil.  Oil, natural gas and clean coal are plentiful right here on our continent but government regulations prevent us from tapping into them or utilizing these abundant resources. 

Recent studies indicate that we have more energy reserves within our own borders than Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries.    This not only makes us dependent on foreign governments but sometimes funds the very terrorists who want to destroy us. 

The recent decision by the government not to approve the Keystone Pipeline is a classic example of the Democrats catering to environmental extremists at the expense of American families who need inexpensive energy sources.

BKH: What are the funding solutions for your proposals?
FB: As I have said elsewhere, government cannot tax its way to prosperity.  As President Ronald Reagan so famously said, “The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.”

Thus, my first “funding solution” is to stop funding wasteful and inefficient programs, stop political earmarks wasting billions of dollars solely to benefit special interests and for the politicians to stop “buying” votes with other peoples’ money.

The second “funding solution” is for government to turn the free market economy loose and, when it does, more tax dollars will miraculously start flowing into the federal treasury.  I heard an economist say once that with every 1% increase in GDP the deficit will be reduced by one trillion dollars.

The third “funding solution” is to simplify our tax code and eliminate the loopholes that benefit only the special interests.  

BKH: What type of tax policy reform do you believe is necessary?

FB: America’s tax code needs reform. Today’s tax system discourages saving, investment, and entrepreneurship. It’s a drag on productivity, job growth, international competitiveness, and wages. It’s complicated beyond belief, and it needs to change. 

We need to simplify the code and eliminate the loopholes that benefit only the special interests.  Unfortunately, we cannot wait until next year to address taxes. 

Unless the President and Congress act this year, an enormous, unprecedented tax increase will fall on American taxpayers starting on January 1, 2013. The Washington Post called the looming tax increase “Taxmageddon,” and the Federal Reserve chairman called it a “massive fiscal cliff.”  That’s because on January 1, 2013 significant deductions and tax policies that benefit American families are set to expire.

BKH: What are the main elements of the "pro-growth economic agenda" you propose?

FB: We need to empower small business owners, reform the tax code to help job creators, increase competitiveness of American manufacturers, encourage entrepreneurship and growth, maximize domestic energy production and pay down our unsustainable federal debt.

BKH: You are a strong opponent of Obamacare. What do you propose to reform health care if Obamacare is struck down by the Supreme Court?

FB: We need to end today's bureaucracy driven, heavily regulated third-party payment system and move to a new patient-centered system of consumer choice and real free-market competition. In such a system, individuals and families would make the key decisions and control the flow of dollars which will likely help resolve many of the problematic issues in our health care system today. 

One thing we know for sure, Obamacare will ultimately lead to government run health care and this is unacceptable.  Can you imagine having to call a government employee who will make the decision for you as to whether you should have a particular life-saving procedure or treatment that you need? 

As a person who understands insurance, having worked in the business for over 30 years, there is no question in my mind this is where we are heading if Obamacare is not stopped in the courts or in congress. 

BKH: What are your proposals on cutting the national debt and spending?

FB: In order to cut the national debt we need to reform entitlements and cut wasteful spending.  We also need to take the shackles off our economy with lower taxes and put an end to the onerous regulations that are now stifling the free enterprise system.  This will spur the economy into producing more revenues. 

Under both President Regan and President Bush we saw these policies expand our economy which led to unprecedented revenues flowing into the treasury.  What we need to do is stop the wasteful, out-of-control spending which has been the nemesis of our government and local governments across the nation for decades. 

BKH: Do you see raising taxes as inevitable to bringing down the annual deficit spending and debt - even with significant spending cuts?

FB:  No. Once again, an expanding economy will increase revenues and entitlement reform will reduce spending.  But we have learned from the past that more government spending, more taxes are not the answer.  Lower taxes mean more money in the hands of consumers to spend. 

The more government spends the more it removes money from the private sector which will keep us in this economic doldrums.  Today we tend to complicate things and solutions which are simple to implement.  Much of this is almost Economics 101. 

BKH: Why do you think D.C. and Congress are so dysfunctional right now in general?

FB: I can remember back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s listening to my grandfather when Dwight Eisenhower was President.  I can remember as a young man visiting him in Washington.  Those were times when Congress and our nation were respected at home and around the world. 

Thinking of my grandfather, who was a congressman from this area; those times seem a distant memory.   If I am fortunate to go to Washington, I want to renew that great national pride we once held in our government institutions where in spite of peoples’ differences, they worked together for the good of the country.

While there are still many elected officials worthy of admiration, it seems when they go to Washington, it changes them as it did, in my opinion, our present congresswoman, Carolyn McCarthy. 

In my opinion there are too many politicians who are more interested in being in power than in addressing the real challenges facing our country.  It’s as if they’re more interested in reaping the spoils – for themselves and for their friends – than in dealing in a serious way with the problems of our nation.

We need to do better—a lot better.  That is why I am running for congress.

BKH: What are your proposed solutions?

FB: I believe the solution is to create a framework of beliefs and objectives first and then to seek out Republicans and Democrats who are in agreement with these beliefs and objectives.  The next is then to put together solutions and find common ground to each of issues that need to be addressed within this group who choose to stand with each other and work together. 

In other words let us amongst ourselves, outside of the leadership, put down the shield or designation of a political party that divide us and dream and create a vision together that will resolves the issues facing our country for the betterment of all citizens but, most of all, for our children and future generations. 

What kind of legacy are we now leaving them I ask?  Also, if we are going to change Washington, we have to change the people we send there.

BKH: Many people long for the days under President Reagan or President Clinton. How do you think President Obama stacks up to either?

FB: President Obama cannot stack up to either President Reagan or President Clinton. President Clinton experienced the same event that President Obama did when the Republicans won the majority in Congress while in the Whitehouse. 

But Clinton was wise and worked with the new congress to the benefit of the nation.  President Obama has decided to blame congress for the problems, which he, in fact, created.  Also, unlike President Obama, Presidents Reagan and Clinton believed in a free-market economy. 

And unlike President Obama, who in just fewer than four years increased our federal deficit by $5 trillion or 35%, both President Reagan and President Clinton knew that such an unsustainable debt would be a millstone that would destroy our economy and ruin any hope for a brighter future. 

And finally, unlike President Obama, neither President Reagan nor President Clinton wanted to “re-distribute” money from those who work and are productive in order to give it to those who don’t and aren’t.

BKH: How do you think a President Romney would stack up to either?

FB: While it’s impossible to know beforehand how any president will perform, it’s clear to me that if he were elected president, Mitt Romney would stack up well to Presidents Reagan and Clinton, because the most important difference is he believes in and has shown he understands our free enterprise system and way of life.

BKH: What in your life experience makes you the best choice for the citizens of NY4 to represent them in Congress?

FB:  I believe growing up on Long Island in a typical middle class family, and striving to make the American Dream come true for my family, just like those of many others that reside in NY4, has prepared me well in knowing and understanding the concerns and hopes for the future we all share together here on Long Island as a community. 

As a kid, I swam in our oceans at Jones and Long Beach, fished in our bays and went to our public schools.  I married my high school sweetheart, Clementine.  We bought a house in Lynbrook and raised our three daughters there, who then went to the same public schools we did and where we met. 

I pay the high taxes and experience the same every day concerns and problems that families experience here in Nassau trying to raise a family and achieve the American Dream. 

As a County Legislator, I have fought to reduce the onerous tax burden on our residents and to reduce the size of government so that future generations will want to live and raise their families here on Long Island. 

If elected to be their congressman, I will take the hopes, concerns and dreams of the families of NY4 with me in my heart and spirit to Washington, because I know them well having lived and breathed them myself. 

Once there, each and every day I will fight for their best interests and for their families and children.  I will fight for our country that it will one day be the great nation it once was. 

It is clear to me that after spending a decade and half in Washington D.C., Carolyn McCarthy has become out of touch with her constituents and ineffective in resolving or providing solutions to the important issues facing us here on Long Island and in our country today. 

Her answer is more of the same: more spending, more taxes and more red tape.  In fact she has made matters worse.  She has been ineffective in fighting taxes and the high cost of living here on Long Island. 

She must be held accountable for her support of Obamacare, which is very unpopular here on Long Island, and her votes and support for the out of control and massive spending and debt proposed by her party, the Democrats and the President, that we are now experiencing in our country today. 

Carolyn McCarthy has voted for every corporate bailout, every failed stimulus, every wasteful earmark, every entitlement, and every sell-out to the special interests and every tax that her party proposed.  Enough is enough.  It’s time for a change.

BKH:  Thank you.  Join Fran Becker on Facebook and Twitter.  Visit his campaign website.

Were politicians in Washington watching the outcome of the Wisconsin election with an eye toward the November national election?  You bet they were whether they publicly admit it or not.  Will the Walker victory change the script of more big government spending and tax increases in the President Obama reelection campaign?  It is hard to say, but the upcoming presidential debates will certainly be quite interesting. 

Will Democrats in general be forced to start talking more like Republicans on fiscal matters to effectively compete for the votes of Independents?  Is fiscal responsibility back in 2012 after four years of big government spending and staggering increases in multi-trillion dollar debt?

Will it take a GOP controlled Congress and Senate to enact reforms and rein in spending?  Can you think of anyone that would not like to see the eras of President Reagan and President Clinton’s national prosperity back?  Both administrations enacted major spending and tax policy reforms. 

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and  Facebook.