Wednesday, October 19, 2011

6 Reasons Campaign Advertising Is Futile

On Nate Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight, political scientist John Sides recently posted an excellent two-part breakdown from the perspective of a political scientist describing when advertising does and doesn’t work for political campaigns.

In short, political advertising by a candidate isn’t that useful unless the candidate is unfamiliar, then only if one candidate greatly outspends another and even then “not for long.”  The ads don’t affect turnout and even when negative, the results are mixed.Tarzan Disney Desktop

This information won’t be new to many marketers including those responsible for community/destination marketing.

The overall effectiveness of advertising has been in dramatic decline but this one element of marketing is often an obsession for a handful of people in every community and especially campaign advisors, most of whom seem to have an understanding of advertising which is wrapped up in ego.

It is big and brash.  It is you telling the world about yourself.  It is Tarzan pounding his chest in the jungle.

But advertising lacks credibility because it is “you talking about yourself” and if there is any group in desperate need of credibility, it is politicians and especially candidates running for office. They rank dead last in surveys of public trust, lower than any other category.

If you happen to see the movie Moneyball you’ll see a humorous depiction of folks who obsess over advertising as a cure-all.  They are similar to the “grizzled advisors” who frustrate the real-life Billy Beane, portrayed by actor Brad Pitt in a film based on the Michael Lewis best-seller, a page-turner about data-driven decision making.

Like Beane’s advisors, folks overly wedded to advertising in this day and age usually are very sensory and rely on what they think they know and who they know without informing it with data.  As Sides warns, “be particularly skeptical of claims” by people who stand to gain or are linked to those who stand to gain from placement of advertising.

Silver’s blog is always worth tracking.  But the first of a two-part post by John Sides on campaign advertising posted on October 5th and another on October 12th are spot on and anyone involved in marketing has probably already experienced the lessons learned by political scientists studying the ineffectiveness of campaign advertising:

  1. Campaign ads matter more when a candidate is unfamiliar.
  2. Campaign ads matter more when a candidate can outspend.
  3. Campaign ads can matter but not for long.
  4. Negative ads work, except when they don’t.
  5. Campaign ads don’t really affect turnout.
  6. There is no secret sauce.  Really.

As Sides notes (click here for part 1 and here for part 2,) much of what goes into modern campaign advertising is largely futile despite the anecdotal hunches of old-school campaign strategists.

Studies show the same is true for any kind of advertising, especially those using outdoor billboards in which case any business brand using them is sure to alienate  seven or more times the number of people who may utilize the messages they contain.

Today, there are simply far too many other significantly more effective marketing alternatives to being sucked in by those obsessed with what is often characterized as “Tarzan or ego-marketing.”

1 comment:

Fritz said...

While I agree that advertising may no longer be as effective as it used to be for politicians, it is still very efficient in promoting brands and products. I've seen some in these post free ads Philippines services.