Senator Jim Dill (ME)
Senator Jim Dill’s 2020 re-election campaign perfectly illustrated the power and importance of tracking an ad campaign’s performance in real-time. In early September we launched a persuasion campaign consisting of a combination of video, display and carousel ads. The ads ran on Facebook as well as on programmatic networks targeting specific voters on virtually every other website.
The ads were initially very well received by voters, with the display ads earning a click-through-rate (CTR) 300% higher than our target for similar ads. In the initial weeks of the run, we optimized the ads to ensure they were only being served to actual people, not bots or on low-quality websites.
Over the course of the next three weeks the ads continued to outperform our target metrics but were steadily losing steam. In the fifth week of the run, the CTR for display ads was half what it had been the first week (but still 150% higher than our target CTR).
As we approached our target date for a creative change, we had a decision to make: should we continue to run ads that were over-performing but that voters had seen, on average, 10 times or switch to a new round of ads in hopes of achieving a similarly high level of performance, but not knowing if it would be replicated.
Had we just checked the performance a month into the flight we would have seen a CTR well above average and likely continued to run the same creative through to election day. But because we had been tracking the performance on a near daily basis we were able to see that the performance, while very strong, was trending in the wrong direction.
We decided to launch a second round of creative four weeks before election day. This switch bumped our ad performance back up to the extremely high levels we were seeing in the early weeks of the fall. Not only did the new display ads perform better, the change in creative corresponded with a 29% increase in the Video Completion Rate over the next two weeks.
By closely tracking the ad performance, we were able to make strategic decisions based on underlying data that told a different story than the topline numbers. This helped keep voters engaged, drove the Senator’s message, and helped deliver a solid double digit win in a tough year for Democrats.