Aug 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democratic Convention organizers test new digital strategy ahead of Biden’s speech

Joe Biden speaks in front of a set of American flags

Biden speaks at a coronavirus briefing in Wilmington, Del. Aug. 13. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic National Convention organizers are testing a more creative approach to online outreach around Joe Biden’s convention appearance, taking over four websites where the campaign has never advertised in an effort to draw more eyeballs to his speech tonight formally accepting his party's presidential nomination.

Driving the news: The team launched a six-figure digital campaign through which people visiting WebMD, FunnyOrDie, Patheos and GearPatrol online will see the Democratic nominee's face in ads instructing them to watch live at 9p ET.

  • Each website features a different slogan from Biden's campaign.
  • The ad on WebMD, for example, says, "For the health of our nation."
  • On, a religion and spirituality website, the ads read: "For the soul of the nation."

Why it matters: Campaigns typically spend ad dollars on big national buys or targeted local TV purchases, but this cycle has seen an increase in non-traditional buys — especially as the coronavirus pandemic has put digital first.

  • "Biden is in places where people don’t expect to see him,” Lindsay Holst, a senior advisor for the campaign who's overseeing digital strategies for the convention, told Axios.
  • The websites span health care, comedy, religion, and lifestyle products.
  • The campaign hopes to find a cross-section of Americans in these spaces who might not otherwise watch the convention.

Don't forget: Democrats this week have talked a lot about voting and encouraged Americans to visit the DNC website,, to help craft a voting plan.

  • The Biden campaign told Axios that had more page views and active users last night than the site generated on Super Tuesday, when 14 states hosted primaries.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama — wearing a "VOTE" necklace — told viewers to "request mail-in ballots tonight," during her Monday remarks.
  • Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday: "This can’t be another woulda-coulda-shoulda election. If you’re voting by mail, request your ballot now, and send it back as soon as you can."
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, in opening remarks at Wednesday's convention, said: “Before I go onstage tonight, I want to talk about the importance of voting."

The bottom line: By taking their digital campaign to lifestyle websites, Biden strategists are expanding the playing field as both parties look for voters in digital and cable crannies where it hasn’t traditionally been cost-effective.

  • Last month, the Trump campaign bought ads on the Food Network to try to reach suburban woman voters with its “Great American Comeback” message, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Sara Fischer contributed to this story.

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