As the pundits and strategists wax poetic about Tuesday’s election results, and what they mean for each party, one thing is clear. This year’s election was a game-changer for digital advertising.

And as the electorate becomes equal parts more technologically savvy and polarized in its views, defining audiences more precisely and targeting messaging to each audience is essential. Traditional audience targeting on attributes like race, gender and income level offers little more than a filter and is an outdated proxy for what really motivates voters. Meaningful audience targeting pivots on the voter’s values and beliefs on which they, particularly the coveted swing voters, base their decision. The best medium to utilize this new precision is online, where we can use rich measurement to quickly understand what’s working.

This political cycle, Resonate ran over 100 ad campaigns in 28 states and Puerto Rico, delivering media for national campaigns, senatorial, congressional, gubernatorial, and mayoral races, as well as key ballot initiatives. So please indulge me this moment as I acknowledge our team for such spectacular results and dedication to our clients’ goals. As we reflect on our own growth this year, we look at how the landscape has changed for the industry.

It wasn’t only traditional online media strategies that were deployed. Display advertising gave way to video, mobile and social sharing, such as:

1. Campaigns repurpose TV advertising online. Pre-roll is a great delivery mechanism, but in some places it became a constrained and expensive inventory source. We leveraged mobile devices and tablets as a way to extend campaign reach, drive cost-efficiency and ensure delivery to all screens where media is consumed.
2. It’s not your mom’s Facebook anymore. We helped clients leverage social sharing tools such as Facebook and Twitter within display and video campaigns to extend the campaign’s messaging platform.
3. Microtargeting delivers. In critical Congressional districts where geotarging is critical, we leveraged all screens to deliver messaging to the target audience.


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Digital became an integral part of campaigns’ media buying strategies. Combined, the Presidential campaigns spent $78M on online advertising, with Obama outspending Romney 2:1. But this shift wasn’t exclusive to candidate campaigns. SuperPACs, Independent Expenditure Groups and other campaign organizations also embraced digital advertising. Estimates suggest a staggering $160M was spent on digital advertising during this election season.

Undoubtedly, next cycle we’ll look back at this post and laugh at how rudimentary we were. The 2014 advances will blow our 2012 minds. We’re working on some exciting new strategies as we continue to redefine conventional uses of this limitless medium.