Friends of Sheila Harsdorf

Wisconsin State Senator Facing Recall Effectively Uses Online Ads in Victory

Nearly 6 Million Targeted Impressions Yielded Strong Click-Through Rates—0.11-0.39%.

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friends-ofIn spring 2011, Wisconsin State Senate Sheila Harsdorf found herself facing a well-organized and well-funded campaign to recall her from office, part of an effort by unions and their allies to flip control of the Wisconsin Senate. Senator Hardorf’s opponents were raising money from around the United States in what had become a national referendum on fiscal, budget and collective bargaining issues. Senator Harsdorf needed to expand her fundraising base and rally support within her district at the same time.

Campaign Challenges


Before signatures were even certified to begin the recall process, Senator Harsdorf’s campaign — Friends of Sheila Harsdorf — began working with ExactDrive on a series on online ads. The first round of ads included fundraising messages and were run both within her west-central Wisconsin district and nationwide in areas with large numbers of Republican donors. A second series of ads focused on her opponent and took Internet users to a landing page with information and videos. Lastly, Get Out the Vote ads in the final days of the campaign targeted supporters to increase turnout among key demographic groups.


Over a four month period, ExactDrive ran nearly 6 million ad impressions for the Harsdorf campaign, achieving strong click-through-rates of 0.11-0.39%, depending on segmentation. Senator Harsdorf won her August 9, 2011 recall election 58% to 42%, a larger margin than she achieved in her regular election victory in 2008. In the six Wisconsin Senate recall elections held that day, turnout was highest in Senator Harsdorf’s district. More people voted in the recall election in her district (64,349) than voted in the top of the ticket race there in 2010 (62,974).




Wisconsin State Senator Sheila Harsdorf has represented the 10th District since 2001. She previously served in the Wisconsin Assembly from 1989 to 1999. In November 2008, she was re-elected to her seat with 56% of the vote. In 2011, Senator Harsdorf faced a recall election. She won that election in August 2011 with 58%.

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