In the spring of 2018, 70 Million Voters ran a digital advertising campaign to encourage young adults in Nevada to vote in the primary election on June 12. The campaign targeted 60% of ads to adults between 18-34 years old, and 40% of ads to African-American and Hispanic adults between 18-34 years old, meaning that people of color were exposed at nearly double the rate as white voters. The ads were delivered to mobile devices across the following channels: ClearStream, Pandora, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and YouTube. 70 Million Voters embedded an A/B test into this program, dividing the zip codes of Nevada into two sets with similar demographics.
In overall results, there was no statistically significant difference between the A and B cohorts in overall voting turnout. However, there was a small but noticeable indication of better voting performance from voters of color, both Hispanic and African American. Since these voters were exposed at nearly double the rate, it is not clear whether the better performance is because the campaign appealed more to voters of color or because the other voters simply did not receive enough exposures of the ads to be effective.
Our conclusions from the test are as follows: First, while GOTV ads are not a magic bullet to substitute for an on-the-ground GOTV campaign, they can be a cost effective and powerful component of a broader GOTV campaign. In using these assets, we recommend building a campaign that combines traditional techniques with a social media component. Second, there needs to be adequate exposure for the ads to be effective. In our test, we had roughly 3 million exposures with over a half million views of 100% of the videos. With about 250,000 people in the target zip codes, that is only about 10 exposures per person over the course of a month. We believe that the number of exposures should be higher ideally. Moreover, the shortened 15 second ads available here will perform better on Facebook, which will increase the quality of ads, i.e. more people exposed will watch them to completion. Lastly, there are indications that this campaign is particularly appealing to voters of color. More information is included in the Deployment Tips section.