Nanotargeting in Online Advertising and Political Campaigns

In 2009, Josh Kotler realized the power of the internet and online advertising for political campaigns when most others were still skeptical. He points out that it did indeed work for big name candidates like President Barack Obama and Howard Dean, but for lesser names like senate campaigns, it may be less powerful in the eyes of the less “online media educated”. In his series of articles on nanotargeting, Kotler dives into online marketing/advertising by identifying specific niche demographics by interest and virtual location. In his first article Long-Tail Nanotargeting, he states, “So, instead of identifying the most universally persuasive messages and broadcasting them to a wide audience, in the long-tail model you take the most persuasive messages and nanotarget each one to the right niche”. By identifying enouch niches and altering the message to tailor it specifically to that group, you have a much more responsive campaign, with lower costs due to the lack of wasted impressions, he discovers.

In his second article Nanotargeted Pressure, written exactly one year later, Kotler discusses how nanotargeting can be used to pressure news groups to act a certain way, he uses online advertising to direct messages at individuals by utilizing information they have made available through social networks, their place of employment. He shows how effective the power of nanotargeting is with his example involving CNN and Lou Dobbs with his position on immigration, which spurred this movement. Inexpensively and in an extremely effective manner, he targeted advertisments to CNN employees to deliver messages to Lou Dobbs through his colleagues. This was a genius plan and he shows how he came to this conclusion and the positive end result.

Peter Greenfield, wrote an article titled, The Digital Playbook: Can online ads move poll numbers?, discussing the powerful use of targeted online advertising, which is exactly what Kotler has described fourteen months prior to Greenfield’s article. The Digital Playbook shows how effective nanotargeted advertising can be through popular media outlets to reach out to families with infertility obstacles through “A recent study conducted by Russell Research on behalf of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, measured the effectiveness of an online campaign in the Washington, D.C. area to raise awareness of an important issue for them. RESOLVE is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the millions of Americans suffering from infertility find solutions to starting a family, and they focused their campaign on embryo donation. A baseline poll was taken before the digital campaign began and a follow up survey was conducted upon its conclusion. No traditional media was used – the only messaging was delivered via online advertising.” The end result was astonishing in its support of both Greenfield and Kotler’s predictions of targeting online advertising. Stastically, people are becoming more responsive to online advertising than tradition televised statements where single messages are picked out from a 60 second commercial.

Both authors are clearly on the same page with online advertising, this seems to be a trend now, more so than it was one and two years ago, in 2009 and 2010. As we approach a new election and the year 2012, nanotargeting seems to be much more of a normative action within online advertising with Facebook and Google. With Google+, we might almost expect an even greater targeted advertisement initiative.


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