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How Outsiders Can Get a Piece of the Political Market

August 2, 2016

The following article on how to succeed in political advertising as a publisher was written by Lotame’s Product Manager, Pierre Diennet, and originally appeared on Campaigns & Elections. Click here to see the original. 

From the Uber drivers who poured into Cleveland and Philadelphia for the party conventions to commercial marketing firms, a horde of new actors are trying to get a piece of the multi-billion dollar political market this cycle.

While the former had an easy time penetrating the campaign world, commercial data and marketing firms often find themselves on the outside looking in. They do their research, put pitches together and go to the trouble of hiring a campaign-savvy salesperson, but still can’t get the business. That leaves many experienced professionals scratching their heads.

That disconnect exists, I tell my colleagues, because of expectations. In fact, most commercials marketers don’t yet understand the degree to which political campaigns parse the electorate.

They aren’t just separating hard leaning party members from moderate ones. They’re using Boolean logic on issues like taxes, healthcare, states’ rights, and immigration to create tiny segments of voters receptive only to the most exact message. Obscure indicators like flag purchases or sci-fi preference come into play. Voter registration data is cross-referenced with sentiment analysis. They’re not messing around.

If you want to win the attention and the spend of political campaigns this season, you’ve got to be very specific with your data offerings. Give them a large portfolio of micro-segmented indicators on political issues. Don’t worry if they’re small in comparison to standard targeting segments.

You can use algorithmic audience modeling to amplify this micro-vertical approach. When you find the ideal group for a particular issue or demographic, use advanced modeling technology to scale up that segment. Campaigns are increasingly comfortable with this approach.

Connect your data to a phone

It used to be conventional wisdom that, while users could be reached on their mobile devices, they were very unlikely to make a purchase or a donation there. That changed in 2016. Candidates are raking in the mobile donations. Bernie Sanders and his campaign have been particularly successful in soliciting and receiving small donations this way.

Moreover, The Atlantic has chronicled how the Sanders for President team built and deployed a first of its kind, text-to-donate technology that was promoted during Republican debates as a sort of drinking game that asks “supporters to text the word ‘NOW’ each time they felt outraged, a command that triggered a $20 dollar campaign donation.”

If you, as a publisher, can offer candidates a means to find voters on their mobile devices, then you’ll help them run a truly modern campaign. Even if you don’t have direct access to apps or mobile browser data, use device-matching technology to bring your desktop data into the mobile sphere. That way, when a campaign expresses interest in a particular segment, you can assure them that they will find those users whenever and wherever they connect.

Be prepared to pivot quickly

I don’t think anyone from either party would disagree that we have two very mercurial candidates at the top of the tickets. This contest is likely to be surprising in terms of trigger issues. Don’t plan for a scenario where everyone is loyal to their party or their party’s platform. In fact, plan for the opposite.

Obviously, anything you can do to build validated Hispanic segments and likely female voter segments is important for this approaching general election, but think outside the box. The Clinton campaign is reaching out to moderate leaning Republicans and the Trump campaign has been boasting for months that they are winning previously loyal Democrats and targeting Sanders supporters.

Political digital is showing all the major trends, just more dramatically.

If you include both party presidential primaries, the Senate, the House and the presidential races, nearly $11 billion is projected to be spent on this cycle, in all formats, and some 10 percent of that will go to digital, according to one estimate. Any company who has even a toe in the digital advertising pool would be remiss not to make a play for some of that spending.

For my part, I am a fierce advocate for our Democratic process. I love the gloveless boxing match that we witness every two and four years and I am particularly excited about watching this year’s fight. These candidates will use any means necessary to win and they will spend everything they have.