A Filipina senator employed native advertising to earn re-election. Here’s the spectacular inside story of how it worked

We’ve conducted a collection of case studies featuring award-winning native advertising examples. This blog post features Best use of Programmatic.


Campaign: How Hyperlocal Programmatic Helped Win an Election. Check out the campaign here. 

In 2019, Ms. Grace Poe hoped to secure a seat in the Senate of the Philippines. Although public awareness of her was high, very few people were likely to vote for her. Learn how native advertising drove the election campaign to a historic result.


  • Client: Filipina senator Grace Poe Llamanzares
  • Agency: The Huddle Room (A Makati City-based

    advertising agency)

The Content

Each content piece was inspired by a carefully chosen social issue that had a particularly strong resonance within a specific geographical province. For example: Bulacan, a province in Central Luzon (north of Manila) was besieged with typhoons. To resonate with Bulacan convertibles (convertibles are the voters most likely to be convinced to vote for the candidate), the content was created using actual footage of Ms Grace Poe doing food and medical missions to typhoon victims and refugees in Bula- can. This kind of content-authenticity resonated with voters. The content was always translated into the local dialect to strengthen engagement.

Distribution and Promotion

Facebook is the primary platform to consume political news and debate politics for this generation of voters. The campaign tapped the power of intent via programmed buys on interest-based content. Programmatic buying was employed on both Facebook and Youtube to hit the audience at relevant interests, locations, language preferences and even competitive candidate pages.

To launch the campaign, a number of regional micro-campaigns were strategically timed six weeks prior to election day, using paid social. This period is a critical time when voters’ personal ballots are being finalised. The 54 micro-campaigns were used in 21 prov- inces across the Philippines, with heavier weight being applied as election day came closer. The content was optimised in real-time.


  • Maintain awareness score to keep candidate top of mind
  • Close awareness to voter conversion gap from a high base of 50 pct.
  • Convert high concentration of non-supporters into voters
  • Generate positive social relevance and public sentiment. Positive sentiment was measured by the rate of positive reactions of the general Filipino public to the campaign. Social relevance was measured by the rate of engagement and press coverage that the campaign achieved.
Ultimately, of course, the goal was to secure a seat in the senate

The Results

During the week leading up to election day, Ms Grace Poe dominated online conversations regionally: Campaign content generated 91 million impressions, keeping her top of mind despite a clutter of various candidates to compete with. Micro-online content delivered a six percent incremental reach through organ- ic shares from an already high base of 56 million people reached. This was far from the only achievement of the campaign: The pre-campaign negative sentiment score was reduced from 30 percent to 23 percent. Most importantly, the campaign successfully converted non-supporters - a plus eight percent voter conversion compared to the election in 2013 - so that Ms. Grace Poe garnered 22 million votes to secure the second-highest number of votes among 61 candidates and a seat in the senate.

Take Note

Running as an independent candidate lacking both the political machinery and resources, Ms. Grace Poe had to fight tooth and nail for every vote across 81 electoral provinces within 120 days. Generally, the voter profile in the Philippines are female or male at 18 years old or older, but steering a campaign towards a generic audience will rarely deliver KPIs.

  • The native team decided to focus all available resources on the voters deemed most likely to convince and convert. Utilising cross surveys and data analytics, the most viable audience was identified based on political interests, psychographics and geo- graphic locations. These were the so-called convertibles characterised by an increased openness to voting for Ms. Grace Poe.
  • Particularly unique to this segment was one glaring insight discovered by the campaign team - What really stood out about this segment was that they had been through many elections and were highly critical of the process, in particular, they disliked overt ads. The campaign team discovered that instead of traditional advertising campaigns, this group of voters were motivated by a candidates’ actual track record and stand on certain relevant local societal issues.
  • To get closer to the audience, the campaign team harnessed the power of native hyperlocalisation in programmatic buys and developed not just one but multiple micro-materials optimised according to pre-determined audience profiles, interests, languages and locations. The programmatic hyperlocal approach was consistent - every piece of content was based on unique lo- cal political sentiments. Micro-online native campaigns with multiple derivatives were created and customised, each campaign represented a message unique to each of the 21 local provinces in the Philippines that had a high concentration of convertibles.
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