Instagram Ads for All

For a while now, Instagram has been cautiously testing the advertising waters. With $200,000 minimum ad buys, individually negotiated orders, and direct creative approval, few business had the finances resources or time required to make Instagram part of their advertising strategy.

But not anymore.

Instagram Ads in Facebook's Power Editor

Instagram Ads in Facebook’s Power Editor

Instagram is ready to do business with the rest of us. Their new API allows advertisers to create, target, and place ads via third-party platforms, like Facebook’s Power Editor. No more talking to reps or dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars at once required. Here at Winning Mark, we are excited to expand our Instagram strategy to include paid promotion.

Ben & Jerry’s Team Up With Bernie 2016

Not often do you see emails from U.S. Presidential Campaigns that include anything more than an obscure/weird/dumb subject line and a plain text donation ask or a preview of their latest t-shirt (more on that later).

In an email today to their supporters, the Bernie Sanders campaign brought in ice cream royalty Ben & Jerry to give a casual text-message style pitch about signing a petition to overturn Citizens United.


The email (which you can read in it’s entirety here) ends with an ask to sign the petition that leads to a excellent landing page tailored for quick conversions. We’re a fan of the work Bernie’s doing online and off and hope to see more great examples of digital engagement from his campaign team in the future.

The Failure of Politics and the Power of Art

Paul Reilly, 2014Paul Reilly's daughter, Joanne (20), was killed on 12th April 1989 in Warrenpoint. Joanne had been working in a builder's yard when a no warning bomb exploded beside her office. She was killed instantly. The sitting for this portrait took place in Joanne's bedroom, kept exactly as she left it that day. The clock on the wall is stopped at 9.58am, the time of her death.

Paul Reilly, 2014Paul Reilly’s daughter, Joanne (20), was killed on 12th April 1989 in Warrenpoint. Joanne had been working in a builder’s yard when a no warning bomb exploded beside her office. She was killed instantly. The sitting for this portrait took place in Joanne’s bedroom, kept exactly as she left it that day. The clock on the wall is stopped at 9.58am, the time of her death.


An often asked question is “Who will speak for the dead?” A powerful exhibition at the Ulster Museum of Belfast, Northern Ireland reminds us that is sometimes the wrong question.

Belfast-based artist Colin Davidson has assembled “Silent Witness”, an exhibition of 18 portraits of people who suffered loss during the 30 years of conflict known as The Troubles.  Davidson makes clear that these 18 portraits are a single, unitary piece of art, stripped of sectarian identifiers and focusing on the irreparable impact of the violence on those left behind. He speaks not for the dead, but for the living whose voices are forgotten, if ever heard to begin with.

We have been admirers of Davidson’s work, especially the portraiture of notable figures he has become known for. But it is these dignified yet searing portraits and stories of people you don’t know that demonstrate the power of art. They offer a transcendent and consequential view that no photograph or prose could hope to achieve.

Those of us who work in politics are used to dealing with the push and pull of emotions and the salience of old grudges, slights and resentments – real or imagined. But beyond the success or failure of any particular campaign, we are mostly lucky enough to avoid dealing with the impact of the profound failure of politics itself. In places that do not share that luck – places like Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans or even some streets in America – the costs are personal, and unimaginably high.

Many in Northern Ireland would tell you with strong justification that the best thing to do about The Troubles is to move on from them. But Davidson’s work throws up a flare to show that we should pause and consider those who will never be able to move on. For them the idea of closure is a cheap and meaningless word. Acknowledging and remembering the costs underlying their silent witness seems the least that we owe. And for those of us who work in places where politics can be fraught, it feels more like an imperative.

If you should find yourself in Ireland, this exhibition is well-worth your time.

Twitter’s Current Struggles and Potential Solutions

Twitter has proved itself as a powerful tool in political online organizing – from helping Arab Spring protesters share information and draw international attention to GOTV pushes in the United States.

But as yet another CEO steps down, it has become clear that there needs to be a discussion of what Twitter currently is compared to what Twitter could be.

Chris Sacca has written a great long read blog post about Twitter’s current struggles and potential solutions. He summarizes:

“Hundreds of millions of new users will join and stay active on Twitter, hundreds of millions of inactive users will return to Twitter, and hundreds of millions more will use Twitter from the outside if Twitter can:

  • Make Tweets effortless to enjoy.
  • Make it easier for all to participate.
  • Make each of us on Twitter feel heard and valuable.

Accomplishing this isn’t hard and there are obvious, concrete steps to fix it all. Done right, countless users new and old will find Twitter indispensable, use Twitter more, see great ads, buy lots of stuff, and make the company much more money along the way.”


Amazing Progress for Marriage Equality

We’ve come a long way in 28 years. A majority of states have legal same-sex marriages, and this month the Supreme Court may extend the right to marry to all couples. We’re happy to be fighting on the right side of history. Sign your name in support of marriage equality here.

Hard to Give: Friction in Online Donations


Robert Neubecker

Friction in online donations has always been a huge issue for campaigns and a dilemma for our team at Winning Mark. When it is time consuming or difficult for supporters to donate, campaigns lose supporters and dollars.

Account-based (“one-click”) donation applications like Blue State Digital, NationBuilder and the VAN provide technology that is a step in the right direction, but they are still behind the times.

One strong example of effective one-click giving is ActBlue, which provides supporters the opportunity to use a simple system, and one account, to more easily donate to various campaigns.

Carly Fiorina's "Ready  Beat Hilary" microsite iuses 'Spark" for account-based giving

Carly Fiorina’s “Ready Beat Hilary” microsite is using ‘Spark” for account-based giving

As a trusted and recognized online payment method, PayPal is still one of the best ways to simplify the process of contributing online.

Any third-party payment platform will present some friction on the campaign’s side because those donations are not necessarily tracked effectively in your existing CRM. Solutions will be needed to integrate the data, but it’s far better for the challenge to be on the campaign’s end than the donor’s end to make it as easy as possible for supporters to give and give again.

Check out a good article on mobile payment friction from the NY Times: One-Tap Giving? Extra Steps Mire Mobile Donations

Why are political campaigns still stuck with mediocre CRM and contribution software? The main tools they use for voter and supporter contact, organizing, communications, and fundraising are sadly lacking in features that are standard for non-political applications.

While others excel at features that political campaigns do not–email and other process automation, responsiveness, analytics, optimization, and low-friction payments, to name a few–these technologies have been slower to change in the political campaign sphere, and it’s primarily because campaigns do not understand, expect, or utilize these features enough to demand them from CRM providers.

Interested in the future of political campaign systems and applications?

One group that is working to speed integration and innovation is Open Supporter Data Interface.

Millennials Increasingly Supportive of Unions

New research by the Pew Research Center shows that millennials are increasingly viewing unions favorably. “The strongest supporters for unions are people under 30 years of age, people who make less than $30k a year, and African-Americans rather than whites or Hispanics,” writes Michael Byrne of the AFSCME Blog. “A challenge for unions will be mobilizing these groups politically.”

However, unions need only look to their young supporters’ social habits for the political advantage. Millennials are the most fluent and proficient users of social media in our society. With new analytics tools available to Facebook and Twitter platforms, such as the one shown below, effectively mobilizing these groups online and getting out the vote might be easier and more likely than some folks think.

In fact, the above tweet was among our most viral, and certainly one of the most quickly retweeted posts we have ever made. We feel that this is proof of the assertion made by the Pew Center research, and representative of the swift effectiveness inherent in social media outreach.

Tweet analytics show useful categories (such as impressions and retweets) and how effective the tweet has been over time.

Tweet analytics produce data that can help to increase a message’s potency and reach. This information can provide direct and immediate feedback on the effectiveness of a campaign’s outreach, a crucial advantage in any race.