ABC News 2012 Election
2012 Election: Real-Time Marketing With Search
The 2012 US Presidential Election was one of the biggest ongoing news stories of the year. Gupta Media helped make ABC News a go-to source for watching live events and news coverage as it unfolded during the election season. Gupta Media ran a campaign to drive traffic to ABC News’ live streams of the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates as well as their live coverage of Election Night. This was in competition with the other big news networks, online and off, as well as with YouTube, newspapers and other media outlets. ABC News was interested in connecting with their audience in the digital space. Joe Ruffolo, SVP for Digital at ABC News, said in an interview with BeetTV that ABC News “is rivaling the reach of cable networks around big events including this Election Night ” by offering live streaming coverage of news events. On Election Night, ABC News served up a record 10 million streams of its coverage.
Gupta Media took their expertise in running online performance media campaigns for the music industry and adapted their proven strategy for the news industry. After an initial campaign around the Republican National Convention, it became clear that these events would generate a high search volume. Gupta Media has always felt that Search delivers the most qualified audience. Users are actively showing awareness and we are able to capture their intent. With that in mind, Gupta Media strongly advocates maximizing search volume in every campaign. It’s important to hit the audience with the right message – we already know it’s the right time. When it became evident that the campaign budget could be spent on Search alone, that quickly became the standard approach for ABC News campaigns. Once it was established that these were going to be exclusively search campaigns, Gupta Media needed to manage the campaign to keep up with the high volume of search traffic. It was important to find the perfect balance of bids, messaging and keywords, bringing CPCs down as low as possible to maximize the budget and stay active on search terms for as long as we could.
The US Presidential Election involved several high-profile events over the course of a few months. Gupta Media took learnings from campaigns run around each event and applied those learnings to later phases. Gupta Media took the time to build targeted keyword lists. Over the course of the campaign, we continued to develop and refine a list of over 5,000 keywords. After monitoring to see what keywords were performing the strongest in real time and looking at search query reports, Gupta Media continued to expand keyword lists to include highly-searched terms, emphasizing the immediacy of the live coverage we were promoting.
The better targeted keywords and directly related ad copy also allowed Gupta Media to start keyword bids lower and lower with each phase. While traffic became increasingly efficient, the budget still needed to be stretched as far as possible. Rather than running the campaign during the hours leading up the to the events, Gupta Media made the decision to day part campaigns to only run when the ABC News stream was live – allowing us to capture interest in real-time.
Gupta Media was working with a relatively limited budget for such high interest events. After seeing how quickly the budget could spend out, an analyst monitored the campaign in real-time. Optimization began minutes after campaigns launched. Ad copy was updated to include phrases from high volume keywords – testing over 15 different versions of copy. As a result, CTR increased within the hour allowing us to drop bids and pause under-performing ads during the live coverage. These combined efforts and live optimization allowed us to maximize the budget and remain active on search terms as long as possible during the few hours each campaign ran.
Senior Marketing Manager at ABC News, Manny Toro said, “Gupta Media’s hard work delivered a successful campaign for our debates and Election coverage. I love the strategy and was happy to see we were able to improve our performance even more with each phase.”
Across the four debates and Election Day itself, Gupta Media served over 12 million impressions and sent over 400,000 visitors to tune-in to ABC News’ live streaming coverage of the events, where the average cost-per-click was less than a dime and the CTR was 3.43%. For the debate campaign, performance improved with each event. From the first debate on October 3rd to the last debate on October 22nd, clicks increased by 700% and impressions by 500%. The CTR jumped from 8.04% to 11.59% and the CPC dropped 90% from $0.30 to $0.03.