Targeted Ads Hit A Bullseye To Get Lou Dobbs Off The Air

From comes a fascinating look at the microtargeted ads that were used to ramp up the pressure on CNN to do something about Lou Dobbs and his increasingly controversial views. Josh Koster and Tyler Davis of digital consultancy Chong + Koster explain:

We needed to gain and keep the press’ attention, so we deployed digital paid media to target media employees specifically. The Facebook feature “workplace targeting” was our primary weapon. We targeted all CNN/AOL-Time Warner employees with 500 points per day (the Facebook max). We ran dozens of different ads, testing message hooks from “Why did you let Lou Dobbs broadcast from a hate rally?” to “Why is CNN profiting off racism?” We even called out CNN’s on-air talent by name: “Hey Soledad O’Brian, why don’t you ask Lou Dobbs what it’s like to be Latino in America,” to ensure the CNN staff was sending screenshots between departments. We also workplace targeted the staff of the 25 biggest political and national news outlets in the country.
To those CNN employees, it must have seemed like we were making massive ad buys when, in fact, what we did cost us about $1,750. In a matter of days, about 900 mainstream media employees (one in four from CNN) had seen the TV spot and knew what we were up to.
We also leaked the story of the digital buy to ClickZ–one of the most well-read digital advertising publications. We choose them because an editor named Kate Kaye is the foremost journalist covering political digital ads, and they are exceedingly well yndicated and search engine optimized. (Anything that they post triggers dozens of
Google Alerts.) This post led to a post by MediaBistro–the insider rag for journalists–and the story exploded from there.
Soon, we were the top return for Google, Google News and Google Blog Search for the phrase “Lou Dobbs.”

Get ready for more of this type of active advocacy advertising. Consumer companies will get into the fray too when they need to make a persuasive case about issues affecting their brands. They’ll need savvy marketing partners who don’t care about big-budget TV spots. Instead, the focus will be on getting the attention of the real influencers, and traditional ad agencies may not be the ones who’ll get the job done.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.