How We Increased Election Turnout Using Google Ad Grants

It was July 2018, and the midterm elections were fast approaching. I had recently connected with the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade County, and they were anxious to begin their voter turnout efforts. The League’s 501c3 Education Fund primarily exists to increase voter turnout, and 2018 was an extremely critical year for this cause. Stories of voter disenfranchisement and un-counted votes abounded, and indeed only increased after election night.

So when I introduced the Google Ad Grants program to them, they were excited to say the least. A grant of $10,000 a month to advertise in Google search results was exactly what they needed! We would dedicate the entire campaign to promoting awareness of the voting process & voting rights, with the hope of enfranchising as many voters as possible.

Creating a Hyper-targeted Campaign

Later that month we set to work. We held an all-hands-on-deck video call to understand the audience, map their journey through the campaign, integrate it with other efforts and craft the right message.

An ad for each distinct question a user might have

An ad for each distinct question a user might have

Even with an audience as broad as “all adults 18+ eligible to vote in Miami-Dade County,” it was still necessary to understand more about who we were advertising to. We created several personas to exemplify different segments within the population. Most important to LWVMD were the voters in un-incorporated territories with historically low voter turnout, so we decided to give special attention to that segment.

As for the content of the campaign, LWVMD had just completed their “Voter’s Toolkit,” a collection of links, resources, and web pages designed to answer all the frequently asked questions around the election. It was a perfect launchpad. Each page spoke directly & specifically to a particular question, such as “where do I vote?” or “how do I register?” so engagement would be as maximized as possible.

Generic version of the dynamic landing pages

Generic version of the dynamic landing pages

Even so, we took the targeting one step further by creating dynamically-updated landing pages based off the user’s location. Voters in Naranja, for instance, would see ads about “How to Vote in Naranja” rather than the more generic “How to Vote in Maimi”.

That personalization carried through to the content on the landing page, too. By passing URL queries, we could update the page headline with the keyword. And if that wasn’t enough, we could even insert the location in URLs the users clicked on the page—so when someone clicked through to the Vote411 database to look up voting requirements, it would display the correct information customized to the user’s location.

The Results — Did it Work?

Performance of the Google ad grants campaign

The Ads ultimately ran from July 28th right up to the weekend before Election Day, a period of 92 days. In that short period of time we educated 7,441 people on their voting rights! That’s about .25% of the population of Miami-Dade County. It may not sound like much when described as a percentage, but considering that Florida’s Senatorial race was decided by less than 10,000 votes, it’s enough to change an election! (Note: LWV is non-partisan and does not endorse any candidates)

The impact of the campaign grows even further when one considers who those 7,441 people were, not simply how many of them there were. The majority of those educated were within our targeted areas, such as Naranja, Miami Gardens, and Gladeview—all areas of historically low voter turnout. Considering LWVMD’s goal was to increase voter participation, they were ecstatic over the results. Executive Director Marisol Zenteno said we “exceed their expectations,” which is exactly what we want to hear.

How You Can Share in this Success

As the country gears up for a presidential election in 2020, we’re making preparations to duplicate this campaign’s success, and partner with even more nonprofits across the country.

If you’re a 501c3 that’s increasing voter turnout, educating citizens, or bettering the US in some way, we’d love to work with you. Enter your email below to check your eligibility for the Google Ad Grants program, get updates on our work, and begin a conversation about your Ad Grants campaign.