This year, Resonate was proud to work with nearly 300 political campaigns. From U.S. House and Senate races to local election and ballot measures, we partnered with some of the most talented and forward-thinking minds in the business. As we continue to build on a strong advocacy year and gear up for the 2016 election cycle, there are several lessons we take with us:

Start Early: The closer to the election, the harder it is to sway public sentiment. For example, we worked with a candidate running for a statewide seat in the Midwest for the six months leading up to the election. Measuring favorability through an ad effectiveness study, we found that the most significant shift in public sentiment occurred early in the campaign. During the final four weeks, it became increasingly difficult to move public opinion. Campaigns have a better opportunity to control the conversation and maximize the impact of their ad spend when people are more likely to shift swing voters’ opinions.

Sometimes Less Means More…Video: More video was run as part of campaigns’ digital efforts this year than ever before. Compared to the 2012 election, Resonate’s video delivery increased 64%. But with that increased demand, we also saw inventory tighten, particularly in geos with competitive races. Further causing inventory constraints, not all sites take 30-second spots. To ensure access to all available inventory, produce a 15-second version of the ad as well.

Supply and Demand Applies to Political Campaigns, Too: The smaller the electorate, the smaller the available inventory. Late in the game, we saw demand exceed supply, particularly in the form of pre-roll. Inventory became hard to find and more expensive. With last minute IE money flooding races, get out early and reserve October ad space to ensure you’re not left out of the game in the final weeks of the election.

Data Drives a Deeper Understanding and Increased Engagement: Clients that leveraged pre-campaign insights to drive strategy saw greater engagement. They also used mid-campaign insights to optimize strategies to attract more supporters. By understanding the issues that are most important to those visiting your site or opening your emails, you can tailor messaging to be most relevant and most impactful.

Digital Budgets Grew This Year: Digital is no longer a “nice to have,” reserved for larger elections, or a vehicle only used to reach Millennials. In fact, some of our partners allocated 25% of their budget to digital. We also saw them use it as a testing ground for their messages. Digital is attractive for its inherent measurability, low barrier to entry, and cost-effectiveness. And it’s not just for the “youth vote” anymore. In fact, seniors are the fastest growing demographic on social media and online.

A/B Testing Isn’t Just for Consumer Brands: While A/B testing has been an important staple of digital media campaigns for the last several years, this election cycle had clients leveraging our advanced analytics and measurement tools to glean more from this traditional methodology. Utilizing ad effectiveness studies and our analytics platform in tandem, clients were able to test which messaging and imagery was having the greatest impact and also understand what type of voter was most likely to engage with each.