Case Study

Joe Biden’s 2020 election campaign is among the most significant in modern presidential history. The challenges were evident from a glance — he faced an incumbent opponent with a passionate base who used deceptive advertising tactics to sway public opinion. The election also took place during a global pandemic that eliminated the opportunity for traditional in-person campaign events and voting methods. Yet despite these challenges, the Biden campaign relied on a powerful message of unity, claiming the nation could overcome any obstacle by embracing human decency and character.

Then-Vice President Biden didn’t deliver this message alone. His campaign team developed a groundbreaking strategy to reach voters across the country beyond mainstream digital channels. This work required a dramatic rethinking of how to extend reach to voters at home. As a result, the 2020 election saw the development of never-before-seen political campaigning techniques across mobile games, social, programmatic, CTV/OTT video streaming, and even audio streaming channels. Biden ultimately earned 81 million votes in the general election, breaking the record for votes cast on a presidential ticket.

12 million

Completed views


CPC, 5x lower than campaign average


CTR, 6x higher than benchmark


Engagement rate, 2.5x higher than benchmark


Video completion rate


Game completion rate, 3x higher than benchmark

Reaching mail-in voters defined the 2020 election

Biden became the official Democratic nominee on August 18, 2020, but still faced several obstacles on the path to the general election. His campaign strategy needed to counter President Trump’s incumbency advantage and established gains on platforms like Facebook. Meanwhile, thanks to COVID-19, more voters planned to vote early via mail, rather than casting ballots in person. These voters needed critical information to help them through the vote-by-mail process.

The Biden campaign decided that its primary marketing strategy would be to reach voters at home — tapping into the many hours spent in front of smartphones and computer screens during the pandemic. Its key audience was women ages 30 to 55, who market research suggested spent a significant amount of time playing mobile games. The campaign’s collaborating agency, Bully Pulpit Interactive, decided that playable ads represented the best opportunity to break into this vertical. The interactive elements of this ad unit would help Biden’s messaging stand apart from more traditional political advertisements while tapping into the positive sentiments associated with gaming.

To succeed, the Biden campaign needed to drive awareness and affinity for Biden as a candidate while simultaneously directing clicks to, which educated voters on how and where to vote ahead of Election Day. What’s more, ad creative had to reflect the expectations of gaming audiences — it should be light-hearted and informational but needed to avoid any policy discourse.

“We anticipated a shift in favor of early voting and voting by mail, so our primary marketing strategy was to find voters at home and break through the many, many hours spent in front of screens. Video to IEC ads in mobile games was the right format to help achieve this goal.”

- Jesse Thomas, Senior Director at Bully Pulpit Interactive

The Biden Campaign breaks new ground with non-traditional IEC ads

To ensure campaign compatibility with mobile gaming audiences, the Biden Campaign stakeholders met with the Interplay Studio™, Tapjoy’s in-house design team who specialize in interactive ad creative. In the past, The Bully Pulpit Interactive team had deployed generic in-app ads programmatically with varied results. That experience informed their vision for how to approach the mobile gaming space. They requested gamified ad concepts that would match the expected user experience and drive conversions.

Tapjoy’s CPCV model was new to Bully Pulpit Interactive, who was used to the CPM model typically used by campaign ads. The INTERACTIVE END CARD rendered after the video completion, adding value outside of campaign pricing and increasing the format’s impact. The low financial risk made the decision to branch out into untested channels easy for the Biden campaign.

The Bully Pit Interactive team chose the “Ridin’ With Biden” concept — an Interactive End Card where users drive Biden’s beloved Corvette past obstacles to reach the White House. The advertisement opened with a gamified 8-bit video that introduced the concept in a fun and engaging style. The campaign team was particularly pleased with how the ad emphasized “Bidenisms” — popular Biden sayings such as “The race is on for the soul of our nation.”

Because brand safety is a vital consideration for any political campaign, the Tapjoy team prepared a custom brand-safe app allow list. They also verified that the app publishers were willing to accept political ads before the campaign deployed.

High engagement and conversion costs 5x below campaign average

Ridin’ With Biden launched in mid-October and targeted users across a set list of swing states like Arizona, Colorado, and Georgia. In total, the Bully Pulpit team managed over 75 vendors across 13 channels over eight weeks with the same end goal of driving traffic to The Tapjoy campaign contributed to a significant volume of site traffic at a surprisingly low cost — Tapjoy drove a $0.66 CPC, 5X lower than the $3.20 CPC average for other channels.

Ridin’ With Biden drove over 12 million completed views and 4 million ad engagements, along with a 35% engagement rate and a record-breaking 9% click-through rate. Moreover, thanks to Tapjoy’s Cost Per Completed View pricing model, the Biden campaign guaranteed that every voter it paid to reach experienced its campaign message, rather than scrolling by — a far more effective approach than CPM models.

“Gaming is not a traditional medium for political advertising. But the interactive elements of Tapjoy’s ad units helped it stand out from other channelshelping the Biden campaign break new ground,” Jesse Thomas, Senior Director at Bully Pulpit Interactive said. “The playable mobile ad units were very well received by campaign leadership who were thrilled that we were in the gaming space.”

“The interactive elements of Tapjoy’s ad units helped it stand out from other channels, helping the Biden campaign break new ground in political advertising. The playables were very well received by campaign leadership who were thrilled we were in the gaming space.”

- Cassie Smith, Associate MediaDirector at Bully Pulpit Interactive

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