Reinventing Political Advertising

Roger Craver, The Agitator

"A stunning new work that's a must read for every political strategist."

Aaron Strauss Program Director, Open Labs USA

"It takes a brave soul to stand amidst industry colleagues and tell them that they are doing it all wrong. Hal Malchow has dedicated his career to not just questioning the established norms, but reshaping them, fearlessly following the evidence wherever it might lead. This book will help you win electoral campaigns, and I only hope no Republicans get their hands on it."

Mike Podhorzer Chair, Analyst Institute

"At the Analyst Institute we measure the impact of political ads and the results are often disappointing. Reinventing Political Advertising looks at those results and offers a data-based agenda for improving Democratic campaigns and winning more elections."

Page Gardner President, PSG Consulting

"Hal Malchow is a man of many important insights into the craft of politics. This book is but another example of his brilliance. It is an important read."

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Studies and control group experiments show that political ads have small effects and sometimes move no voters at all. Reinventing Political Advertising reviews measurement of the small impacts of political ads on television, the internet and in the mail.

Drawing on testing data, the book shows how these small effects can be increased by new approaches to both targeting and creative design. One example is a series of studies showing that well informed voters are hardly moved by advertising at all but low information voters are a much better target. In one experiment, voters in the treatment and control group were asked, in addition to their candidate choice, which party controlled congress. Those voters who did not know were thirty-one times more likely to change their candidate support than those who knew,. Despite these findings political advertisers place more than half of all television ads on news programming.

When 90% of voters are voting straight party tickets, why are almost 100% of political ads about candidates and none about parties. Breakthrough mail experiments show that providing voters with impartial information about candidate votes on issues, with no endorsement at all, works better than ads telling voters how to vote.

Hal Malchow reviews these and other issues and recommends an agenda to help Democrats improve the effectiveness of political ads and win more elections.