Why the Russian Ads Worked

By Mario Solis Marich

As more details surface about the Russian digital Presidential campaign, more questions emerge as well. American campaign managers and other marketers seem dumbfounded at the breadth of the Russian campaign and unfortunately are still skeptical about its impact. Their skepticism is their vulnerability that will be exploited again and again until they either learn that the communications field has changed forever or they are replaced by those that because of their age know no other reality

Over 125 million people were "served" social media ads by the behemoth social media platforms that Americans of all ages visit on a regular basis. But the impact of the ads and posts goes far beyond their numbers because of the credibility of the ad delivery system. Looking at this single aspect of social media's power should cause people to become believers in digital campaigning.

Political scientists have long understood endorsements to be a foundational aspect of any campaign. Beyond the raw political power that endorsements have over funders the subtle power of having a credible third party indicate that they like a candidate or cause can be influential to a voters initial impression or last minute decision.

Millions of dollars are spent on focus groups to determine the impact of endorsements from individuals, groups, or professions on issues and candidates. Third party credibility is a mainstay of our current political systems decision-making process.

Social media has taken this basic principle and personalized it. The ability for voters to easily share their thoughts regarding a candidate changes the equation significantly. While social media audiences may be sharing somebody else's thoughts they are implicitly endorsing those messages and creating a social climate among their peers that is invaluable.

While direct mail and telemarketing are still irreplaceable campaign tools candidates and campaign professionals must understand that they are now contacting voters that are involved in an ongoing and highly charged political conversation with people they know and most times trust. Voters are now active participants in the message delivery and endorsement process regardless of the skepticism of the professionals that have grown accustomed to guiding it.


Mario Wire