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Virtual Slate Card: Playing to Win


Slowly but surely, metrics and ways to measure the impact of political banner ads are rolling in. We have another Pinpoint Persuasion campaign to chat about – one that demonstrates the power of online pretty clearly.

For a local election, held the same day as the California Primary on June 8, a Spot-on client used our “Virtual Slate Card” for a race in Los Angeles County.

Spot-on’s Virtual Slate Card is a good choice for down-ballot contests like this. It allows two or more candidates to share an online banner ad buy, giving each more spending power than they’d have on their own. In cities like Los Angeles where media of all sorts is prohibitively expensive for all but the most high-profile races, Virtual Slate Cards are a sweet deal. In areas where spending limits keep budgets low, Virtual Slate Cards let like-minded campaign and candidates stretch their ad dollars without violating spending limits.

These are the money-saving advantages of the Virtual Slate Card. But we’ve also got solid evidence that they work – effectively and almost immediately. For the June primary, Spot-on booked banner ads that began the last week of April and continued to Election Day; aiming for thin but persistent placement on pages carrying local news and events. We used a “share of voice” metric – taking a small percentage of the ads publishers expected to show over a long period of time.

The goal was to find potential voters who care about their community. Ads appeared on the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, South Bay Daily Breeze,,, sites, as well as a number of smaller LA County publications.

The budget was less than $50,000 for the length of the ad run. The campaigns did not buy search advertising; just banner placement. Both campaigns also used traditional slate mailers to reach high propensity voters. The results were clear: Banner ads are a good way to get voters to your candidate or campaign website. Across all metrics, the increased traffic to the site increased by at least 400% – for both candidates.

To measure results, we didn’t just look at click-through rates – the number of times an ad sent a reader to a site. We also looked at three site metrics: 1) the number of visits and visitors to the respective websites – known as “unique visitors” 2) the number of times people came to the site – “visits” – and 3) the number of times a free, organic Google search of the candidate’s name brought a voter to the site -”Google Search Referrals” (we’re calling these “GSR’s”).

While the more familiar click-through rate can be a good indication of how well creative is performing, it’s still a good idea to remember that they are generated by publishers, not by clients. That’s one reason why Spot-on urges all campaigns to watch and monitor traffic to their sites as well as click-through and direct visits, using Google Analytics or other site meters.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:09 AM | Permalink

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