2020 Advocacy Trends

Those looking to impact change in the arena of issue advocacy should embrace change; doing so will allow them to build a grassroots army, motivate and activate their audience, and do so at a lower cost with greater outcomes.

Director of Analytics & Audience Insights Ashley O’Rourke joins our #StrategySession today to discuss 2020 advocacy trends.

Each year during state legislative sessions, governors and legislative leadership work towards achieving their legislative priorities ahead of hotly-contested elections. This spring, states have had the additional work of handling the COVID-19 crisis on their agenda, resulting in some special and even virtual sessions.

During these regular sessions, non-profits, private companies, trade associations, and issue advocacy groups build out their teams and strategies to prepare for those legislative battles – and prepare to spend an unprecedented amount of advertising dollars in order to achieve their goals.

While some groups continue to rely on an antiquated advocacy model, solely consisting of highly paid lobbyists and large broadcast TV budgets, there are countless groups who lead the charge on establishing a new model for issue-advocacy by adopting political-campaign style tactics and leveraging the latest data and digital marketing capabilities to achieve their goals.

The smart organizations realize that by utilizing highly targeted, online digital advocacy campaigns they can achieve their goals in a two-fold fashion:

First: Cultivate a grassroots army of online followers who are able to take offline actions in order to support (or oppose) upcoming legislative battles and influence their local elected officials.

Second: In the fall, depending on the results of the legislative session, activate these same supporters to hold their elected officials accountable for their actions come Election Day.

While various digital platforms have started implementing greater restrictions (or prohibiting altogether) online political ads, issue advocacy campaigns still have plenty of opportunities to navigate these new regulations and run effective campaigns – all for a substantially more cost-efficient means then broadcast television.

In 2020, we have seen the following trends:

1 <> 1 Data Solutions
Those working on issue advocacy have limited resources to spend on their campaigns, which makes spending their advertising budget communicating to the right audience even more critical. There will be times where polarizing legislative battles isn’t as simple or black and white as the broad, demographic/geographic-based targeting audiences that some platforms limit their ad-targeting to. Smart organizations will leverage offline issue modeling that is custom to their legislative initiatives in order to accurately identify known supporters and/or persuasion target audiences. Platforms such as Adobe, LiveRamp and Facebook, those that allow for offline data sets to be onboarded for online targeting at the individual level, will play a critical role in these sophisticated advocacy campaigns.

Mobile Domination
There are countless statistics on how the number of hours spent using mobile devices is on the rise and that more and more people are utilizing their mobile devices for news and media consumption. Expect to see an increase in the number of in-app mobile ads, digital videos and websites being tailored to the mobile experience and more use of SMS Texting to engage audiences of target constituents.

Not All Geo-Targeting is Created Equal
The latest mobile technology has enabled advertisers to serve advertisements to mobile devices based on their current location or proximity to a given location – a term often referred to as ‘geo-fencing’ – which can be an effective tool when wanting to increase awareness around a state capitol during session. Smart campaigns will take this technology a step further and incorporate location-based geo-farming into their advocacy campaigns. Geo-farming enables advertisers to identify the mobile devices within a given radius from a specific location on a given date (or date range) and create an audience of these users for future retargeting. This is a great way to continue communicating with key legislative/policy influencers and elected officials when they leave the capitol and are back in their districts.

Certainly, the COVID-19 crisis is changing the way things have always been done. Technology is, too.

Those looking to impact change in the arena of issue advocacy should embrace these changes; doing so will allow them to build a grassroots army, motivate and activate their audience, and do so at a lower cost with greater outcomes.

Contact the Majority Strategies team of state and national strategists to get started today.