For the best digital campaigns money can buy, political leaders trust Megan Clasen

For anyone interested in starting a digital advertising agency, Megan Clasen has award-winning advice. With a career in digital advertising spanning over a decade, Clasen has steadily crafted a clear roadmap for creating some of today’s most successful marketing campaigns. And as one of the few women in tech, and one of the even fewer in political tech, Clasen is helping shift the paradigm of what winning big actually looks like.

Most recently serving as a paid senior media adviser for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, Clasen has become an in-house “digital guru.” Leading their publicity work, Clasen’s team executed the largest digital ad program ever run by a Democratic campaign. Prior to that, she led JB Pritzker’s digital efforts in his successful Illinois gubernatorial bid, which Politico called “The best campaign money can buy” and was later recognized at the 2019 Reed Awards. as the “Best Online Advertising Campaign”.

After the 2020 election, Clasen and his creative partner, Patrick McHugh, came together to found Gambit Strategies – a first-of-its-kind digital advertising company specializing in “persuasion, mobilization and advocacy campaigns for candidates and candidates. causes,” as shared by McHugh via Twitter at launch. “What you’ve seen is a lot of TV companies saying, ‘We can do digital, too,’ or digital fundraising companies saying, ‘We can do digital persuasion and mobilization,'” said Clasen, quoted recently in The Hill. “Not many companies say we’re experts in digital engagement and persuasion.”

Since launching Gambit, Clasen and McHugh have exponentially increased their reach and intrinsic value as a digital media and creative company primarily focused on voting operations. In our recent interview, Clasen revealed that the company now has 14 employees who have been with the company for less than a year, with more than 60% of their pool of political candidate clients campaigning in this cycle identifying as women. .

Speaking about the success of their business, Clasen shared his amazement at the number of people who have trusted the team’s expertise. As the year progressed, she expressed enthusiasm for continuing to push for increased mobilization up and down the ballot. Outlining some high-profile strategies guaranteed to work across a range of industries, Clasen highlighted some crucial points for those hoping to reach a larger, more diverse audience in the years to come.

What kind of story are you trying to tell?

When crafting a marketing plan focused on digital engagement, Clasen detailed the critical role storytelling plays in driving audience buy-in. With the Biden campaign, Clasen thinks his team has been able to do wonders by staying true to the message. Going into the middle of a pandemic with a generally erratic opponent, she says focusing only on the stories that spoke most to President Biden and what his administration sought to deliver — like “The Biden Standard” — was what helped secure victory.

Sticking to a concrete storyline was something Clasen learned as he became one of today’s top digital strategists. Starting her career in digital advertising with agencies in New York, she spent five years working with brands including Samsung and AT&T, before taking on a starring role on the Hilary Clinton show. Hillary for America digital advertising team in 2015. Looking specifically for someone with an outside perspective and the potential to bring new ideas to politics, Clasen was hired to oversee ad operations and media buying, but s often found herself explaining to her colleagues why digital should be a priority.

As she taught them to view digital persuasion as a broadcast medium similar to television instead of the direct mail programs they were used to, progressive campaign leaders and brands quickly began to subscribe to Clasen’s dogma. And as one of the first political campaigns to sign a partnership with a digital streaming platform – Hulu – Hillary Clinton’s run for the White House has become Meghan Clasen’s pioneering effort in digital political marketing.

Who are you trying to sell?

Greater access to streaming services and inevitably shorter attention spans have transformed the focus of advertising marketing in the digital and physical world. The key point Clasen and McHugh are trying to make with the creation of Gambit Strategies is that without strategic digital advertising, persuading and mobilizing everything voters simply cannot be done.

“I think [it] is emotional,” Clasen explained of the habitual nature of voting that often leads to difficulties with voter turnout in non-presidential cycles. “People want to know that the person they are voting for shares their values,” she said. “Being able to tell stories, I think, makes people trust a candidate.”

Spearheading the creative marketing strategies that helped President Joe Biden win his seat in the White House in 2020, Clasen illustrated his experience using real people to share their reasons for voting for a candidate – critical narratives designed to create the emotional bonds needed to bring other voters together. “If somebody’s been a Republican all their life and you’re trying to get them to come out and vote for a Democrat, you’re really going to have to build that trust and get them to hear from people who look like them why vote. for this candidate is the right thing to do.

The Biden campaign had a digital advertising program budget of $250 million and a full understanding of the individuals on the other side of the communication. Some voters felt disillusioned, others had little or no access to reliable resources. To help reach a more diverse audience, Clasen used creative platform-specific formatting, such as culturally competent 15-second videos on Facebook instead of generic 30-second videos.

And to make sure voters genuinely feel like they’re being heard and speaking to them, Clasen pointed to specific targeting tracks being used, for veterans, rural citizens and the elderly in different battleground states. , etc. caring can be very powerful,” she concluded.

Use what is true to create novelty

Clasen agrees that having a mix of targeted ad placement and prioritizing the creative experience when analyzing data is what sets his agency apart as a top political tech. Throughout our conversation, she emphasized the importance of data-driven decision-making and how leveraging customer insights to inform branding and marketing plans should be the way forward for anyone hoping to make waves. digital.

“Data drives our decisions about where we spend money online,” she began, referring to the invaluable insights gleaned from what and where people consume the most. line. “People spend more time on Facebook and Instagram than on most other platforms, but [they] will scroll on their mobile device, looking at something for three to five seconds on average.

According to Clasen, getting an emotional message across in today’s climate really depends on the environment. But by targeting the highest quality persuasive impression based on consumer insights, it becomes easier to reach, reach and move viewers at every level.

Keep a clear strategy

“If you told me 10 years ago this is where I was going to land – that I was going to be a vital part of the campaign that brought down Donald Trump and then start my own ad agency – honestly , I probably would’ve done ‘I don’t believe you,’ Clasen said of her professional journey, but she undeniably illustrates the importance of having a clear strategy when ascending one’s career.

Named one of the “Top Women in Digital Marketing” at the 2019 Digital Megaphone Awards, the Cleveland, Ohio native talked about following her instincts and working hard at every task presented to allow opportunities to uncover her passions. Clasen revealed it was through his experience working with people-centric companies like Starcom and GMMB, his leap of faith on an entry-level position in his dream career after college, and countless days of “networking like crazy” to keep the lights on in her new New York apartment — all before working in politics — really helped prepare her for the competitive sphere she now dominates.

“I think the important thing, especially for women, is that it’s okay to fail,” she said. “People are going to tell you no and you have to keep going. People will act like you’re not good enough because they’re intimidated by you. But it is important to have confidence in yourself and to keep working towards your goals in order to be able to achieve them.

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