Reaching The Elusive Elite Audience in DC

Reaching The Elusive Elite Audience in DC

Elites. Influentials. Business Leaders. These are some of the most sought after advertising audiences. And many are clustered within the immediate and surrounding area of one town: Washington, DC. This means that at any given time there are dozens of different causes, issues and policies fighting for the limited and often distractible attention of elites.

At BPI, we know that marketing technology has fundamentally changed the way we interact with brands, issues and causes. But as elites become more connected to multiple devices and channels, their behavior forces us to change the way we distribute our messages. Every campaign now comes with the expectation to respond to real time to news and information, which means we need to reach elites from multiple angles and make sure our budgets are ready for a spike in search volume and social media activity. 

With busy schedules and transient lifestyles to and from Congressional districts, for example, it is important to be able to follow our government audiences around the web – and go beyond IP and zip-code targeting. Lately, we have seen that high-impact advertising on mobile and tablets is becoming a more effective tactic to reach these audiences. As technology changes and the paid media placements become more impactful, these units can help to reach transient influencers. In addition, social media advertising on mobile and desktop allows elites to see ads in an environment where they regularly read the news, share opinions and engage with constituents.


This past year, we ran a campaign to understand how attention varies among elites reading Beltway publications such as POLITICO, Washington Post, The Hill, and others. We found that if you want to make a big impact and reach a high density of elites, it is important to invest in multiple homepage takeovers plus run of site, among other efforts like search, social, mobile and desktop targeting. But given that most people do not always enter news sites through the homepage, but rather through individual articles or shared content, it equally important to look for specific topic sections to reach them on, which includes print. Additionally, it may make sense to combine a print-and digital buy with these publications, given that print advertising still plays a significant role in DC as one of the most trusted ways to consume news among elites. 

What we have realized is that it isn’t possible to reach the same audience targets by simply buying an ad on one publication. By combining a mobile-first approach, with multiple high-impact buys that can grab the attention of these influencers, paired with contextual and rapid response strategy, we can now make sure we reach elites in a more powerful and relevant way online.

Erica Monteith is a Senior Media Director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, where she manages BPI’s advertising team and oversees tens of millions of dollars in digital spend across a variety of platforms. In her role, she works to maintain BPI’s relationships with publishing partners and offers strategic direction for clients ranging from FORTUNE 500 corporations to top 10 non-profits and competitive political campaigns.