Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Data Advances Transform TV Ad Targeting, Costs

Improved data technology is revolutionizing political TV ad targeting and spending, stresses a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. Borrowing from traditional direct-mail targeting methods, data analysts now can mine information about where a person lives, how he or she has voted and what products have been purchased to predict future political behavior -- and then match those voters to TV viewer data about what shows individuals watch and when they watch them. This allows TV ad targeting to drill down to a much deeper level than blanket TV ad buys using traditional audience stats. For example, DirecTV Group Inc. and Dish Network Corp., the country's two biggest satellite-TV providers, now offer direct access to chosen households, so one person might see a campaign ad during a show that his next-door neighbor won't see even if watching the same show. Cablevision Systems Corp. and Comcast Spotlight, a division of Comcast Corp., also have started providing campaigns with detailed, real-time information about what people are watching. Sensitive to possible privacy concerns, ad buyers and sellers stressed to WSJ that individual privacy is being protected by encryption, removal of names and identifiers, and third-party matching of anonymous voter and TV viewer data. But the bottom line is that these new data tools are allowing campaigns to reach pivotal voters at lower TV-ad costs. Advocates of the new TV targeting for both Republicans and Democrats told WSJ that they can help a campaign stretch its ad budget by as much as 30%. That's certainly good news when political campaigns will spend about 57% of their overall advertising budgets on broadcast TV, and another 15% on cable, according to projections by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group! For examples of how real campaigns have used the new TV targeting, read the WSJ story: http://online.wsj.com/articles/political-ads-take-targeting-to-the-next-level-1405381606

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Even Social Sites Divide Along Party Lines

Social media is a must for political campaigning today, but it turns out that most social platforms are not unbiased forums, according to a recent survey by the Harvard Institute of Politics as reported in a New York Times post. According to the Harvard survey, Democrats prefer to share on Google Plus and Twitter, while Republicans are Pinterest fans. Facebook is both the most popular and most politically neutral social media environment, with 87% of Republicans and 87% of Democrats saying they use the site. Snapchat also appeals equally to smaller portions of both parties (24% Democrats and 23% of Republicans). But most of the rest of the social media world is dominated by Democrats, with Google Plus (52% of Dems; 36% of GOP), Twitter (46% of Dems; 38% of GOP), Instagram, WhatsApp and Tumblr all more popular with the left side of aisle. Only Pinterest garners more interest from Republicans (40%) than Democrats (32%), and social observers theorized that this may be because 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his wife often used it during their campaign. Bottom line: Candidates and causes seeking to corral supporters should consider the political bent of social media options when committing resources. See the full post at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/the-political-preferences-of-social-media-sites/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Study: Parties Face Polarized, Disaffected Voters

Partisan polarization, combined with growth of unpredictable, disaffected voter blocs, will challenge both Republican and Democratic candidates this year and in 2016, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Pew's "voter typology" divides voters into cohesive groups based on attitudes and values to provide a "field guide" to the changing political landscape. The latest study describes eight voter types, including three groups that are strongly ideological, highly politically engaged and overwhelmingly partisan. Two of those three partisan voter types form the Republican base: Steadfast Conservatives (anti-government and socially conservative) and Business Conservatives (pro-business, limited government types but social moderates). Meanwhile, voters categorized as Solid Liberals provide loyal Democratic Party support. However, these three partisan voter types make up just 36% of the public and 43% of registered voters, which means victory for either party will depend on problematic wooing of votes from groups that are less predictable, less engaged and have "little in common with each other or the groups at either end of the political spectrum." Those five, less-partisan voter types are Young Outsiders (Republican-leaning but socially liberal), Hard-Pressed Skeptics (financially soured, former Obama backers), Next Generation Left (young, affluent, socially liberal but fiscally cautious), Faith and Family Left (Democrat-leaning but religious/socially traditional), and Bystanders (10% of the public and not registered to vote). Republican campaigns are likely to be further challenged by growing schisms between Steadfast Conservatives and Business Conservatives over social issues, big-business power and foreign policy, Pew researchers add. For details of the Pew study, go to http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rapid Growth Forecast for Political Online Ads

"Explosive" growth in online political ad spending is being projected by ad forecasting firm Borrell Associates. A political advertising outlay of $8.3 billion is forecast to flood all media markets for the midterm elections, up from the $7.2 billion spent in 2010, the previous midterm election year, according to the Borrell 2014 forecasts reported by Deadline Hollywood. But the shares of the pie going to broadcast TV, cable TV, online and newspapers are shifting. While broadcasters are expected to reap $4.6 billion this year, or 55.4% of the ad spend for all races and ballot issues, that take is actually down from its 57.5% share in 2010, and broadcast's share is expected to shrink further to 52.6% in 2016. Where's the money going? Cable and online are "the only media choices projected to gain share" this year, per the Borrell report. In fact, online’s projected $271.2 million is up 1,825.2% from its $14.1 million in 2010. Although online ads are expected to account for just three cents of every ad dollar spent on all 2014 political contests, "current forecasts call for explosive growth to continue, nearing the billion-dollar level by 2016′s Presidential election," according to another quote from the report. By 2016, online will account for 7.7% of ad spending, ahead of newspapers' 7.1%. Display ads and video will make up three quarters of this year’s online spending. Forecasters attribute political campaigners' new "fascination" with online to its targeting ability, quick response and relatively low cost as well at to generational shifts that see millennial voters "much more likely to turn to streaming video and social media" for political information. For a summary of the report, see http://www.deadline.com/2014/06/political-ad-spending-tv-online-borrell/

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Donor List Rental Still Top Political Fundraising Tool

Donor list rental is still the leading tool of political fundraisers despite hype about social media and online politicking, reports a recent Advertising Age article. The list-rental dollars in this year's elections are indicative: The National Republican Congressional Committee already has spent just under $200,000 to rent the Romney 2012 e-mail list from Targeted Victory, a consultant for Romney's digital campaign. The Democratic National Committee has put a $190,909 per month value on the Obama for America list, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told the Federal Election Commission (FEC) it used $135,000 worth of the same list twice in April. While the Obama and Romney lists may be among the largest, they are hardly the only lists being rented per FEC reports. Candidate campaigns and advocacy groups are renting lists of online petition supporters, campaign event attendees, donors to specific nonprofits or political candidates, left-leaning subscribers to The Nation and DailyKOS.com or right-leaning subscribers to Newsmax, and so on. The primary season is especially rife with donor list rentals as lesser known candidates vie for cash to support upcoming election bids. Why are donor list rentals so key? Can't the data wizards extract targets from public voter data using known-donor profiles? "You can build predictive models of likelihood to be a donor using your list of donors and lists of people who have not donated to you," Alex Lundry, senior VP at GOP data analytics firm TargetPoint Consulting, acknowledged to Advertising Age. But he then added, "That will never perform as strongly as just going out and renting a list of people who have given before to another campaign."A person's history of donating is the best predictor of another donation, the political direct marketers agreed. Read the full article at http://adage.com/article/campaign-trail/world-campaign-tech-list-rental-a-force/293714/

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lessons From GOP Cantor's Stunning Primary Loss

Stunned political pundits are trying to explain the Virginia primary loss of GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Are there lessons for campaigns and causes charging toward the midterm elections? Cantor's loss certainly was not due to a lack of money; Cantor outspent his Republican primary rival Dave Brat by 26 to 1 courtesy of big-business donors. So those facing big-money challengers take heart, and candidates with overflowing coffers take heed.  Fundraising that earns a "crony capitalist" label can come back to bite you: Cantor's unabashed big-donor image allowed Brat to successfully appeal to voters' populist sentiments. A recent analysis in The Atlantic magazine sums up other Cantor vulnerabilities that candidates will want to avoid. For example, don't go wrong on litmus issues: Cantor's support of certain pieces of immigration reform allowed Tea Party-stalwart Brat to win Conservative votes by accusing Cantor of "blanket amnesty" support. Next, remember that personality counts: Cantor, who has been described as arrogant and self-serving, apparently made more enemies than friends on his ambitious climb to House Majority Leader via leaps from moderate Republican to Tea Party and back toward the middle, and so earned distrust, dislike and Conservative responses ranging from apathy to outright opposition during the primary. And never lose touch with the home front: Cantor didn't pay attention to his constituent base while he played Washington power games and wooed donors. Plus, he then sought to change state central committee rules before the primary to minimize right-wing activists, a misguided effort to "vigorously poke a nest of already-angry hornets" as one Republican operative told The Atlantic. For more, see the article at http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/06/six-theories-for-eric-cantors-loss/372552/

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Custom Digital Radio Offered to Candidates, Causes

Candidates, PACs and causes are being offered a new vehicle to ride to election day: customized digital radio stations. Houston-based company RFC will create custom-produced radio stations that "are hand-crafted and live hosted by award winning and nationally known on-air personalities." The music is designed to hit the target demographic and spoken content discusses "issues, candidates and campaigns in a fashion that builds a bridge with your mission-critical demographic." In a press release, RFC CEO Pat Fant promises, "By combining high-value content with legitimate entertainment, we can pull people in rather than just pushing information out. That increases the likelihood they'll participate and share with their friends, and that has a lot of advantages in the political world." Any examples of this idea in practice? RFC has been partnering with NASA for the last two years to create a digital radio station "Third Rock" that blends indie rock with science news. RFC sells its concept by stressing its longevity: As opposed to ephemeral radio spots, the custom station can keep on message and build support even after an election. Also digital radio is embeddable, like a YouTube video, so it can be integrated into the social media of a campaign or cause. For more, see the Tess VandenDolder story from Streetwise Media's InTheCapital at http://inthecapital.streetwise.co/2014/06/05/your-new-favorite-radio-station-could-actually-be-owned-by-ted-cruz/