Should my Campaign Utilize IP Targeting? 


October, 2020 

2020, in additional to being a what some would call a dumpster fire of a year, is a major election year. That means that you can’t look left, right, or in your mailbox without seeing something relating to the election. To target voters, some candidates rely on IP targeting. As digital marketing experts, we have some advice on whether utilizing this is a great idea, or if you could try something with more control.

Dated Mailing Lists

IP targeting pairs household IP addresses with mailing lists. Because mailing lists are far from precise, this targeting method can be clunky and expensive when compared to others. If the mailing lists are updated, it could work well, but far too often they are not. For instance, just last month the BadCat office received a fundraising letter from the RNC addressed to the now deceased owner of the business that was previously housed here. Mailing lists are notorious for changing slowly.


Multiple Household Members

Candidates must also consider that households have more than one member who behave differently. For instance, one household with one young couple could have as many as five regularly used devices that could receive ads—none of which are routinely shared. If members within the household are part of a different party, the ad message could be entirely different. You’d want to target one person to remind them to vote, while you’d try to target the other person to vote for a specific candidate. You simply can’t split that message with a household IP address match. When kids are added to the household, the whole thing gets even more convoluted.

“IP targeting versus targeting specific behaviors online is the difference between fishing with a net versus with a pole.”

Cost Per Mile

Now, consider that address matched ads are typically charged and measured through CPM (or cost per thousand impression). They are based on lists with demographic markers and likely paired with DFL rolls of some sort. Typically, each of those “list overlays” adds cost to the list—the theory being that the more specific the initial list, the more qualified the ad target, and the more valuable the ad. But what if the ad was paid for and measured by interaction instead?


Targeting Individual Behaviors

A better option is to target voters based on individual behaviors online. Start with an email list and create a custom affiliate audience that interacts with the internet the same way core supporters do. Build on the online behaviors of people within the district who have similar behaviors.


Cost Per Click

Another option is to bid on ad placement and pay per click on ads. Why pay $15 per thousand impressions when you could pay $1.50 per click for 10 clicks? It’s the difference in paying for passive views versus active views, and it allows you to show a different message to members of the same household (something that address matching doesn’t).





To simplify, using IP targeting versus targeting specific behaviors online is the difference between fishing with a net versus with a pole. You could catch whatever swims by with a net, and there’s nothing wrong with the decades-old practice, but you could also fish with a pole and catch the exact fish you want.


Now who’s ready to get out and vote November 3?

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