Winning With Political Ad Data Means Finding Color In The Gray

political ad data

Campaigns know voters are so much more complicated than party affiliation, yet they’re often flying blind in their outreach. 

It started after Obama’s win. Then we saw it with Trump’s too. Every political cycle, once the election day dust settles, we invariably see stories about the “data machines” powering campaigns. These articles would have you believe that the data behind winning campaigns is so ridiculously good that perhaps the other side never had a chance. 

The reality? This data is often really, really bad. 

We know because we’ve cleaned some of these files for campaigns before. They bring us their database only to learn that literally just 2% of it is pristine. The rest is some combination of incomplete, outdated, or just outright fake. 

This is a problem because bad data means terrible ROI. Typically, a consumer needs 4-5 exposures to become aware enough about a product that they can make a decision. But voters? It’s more like 20-30. Campaigns often have to hit 3-4 major policy points with multiple impressions for each. If all those impressions are being wasted on bad views caused by bad data, precious ad spend is simply wasted. 

And make no mistake, policy is where independents especially are won over. After all, independents are ultimately what deliver a winning (or losing) campaign. 

The good news is that the data exists to really understand these voters. Campaigns just need to make the time and investment to dive into it. This is important because these voters can be very hard to read. And simply overwhelming them with wall-to-wall negative ads is not going to move the needle. 

Voter registration logs don’t tell the story. Past voting records don’t either. The further they get down-ballot, trying to understand how a voter is to vote one way or another can be downright impossible. 

That’s where understanding the who behind the voter is more important than ever. Zooming out from a purely political view, demographic info tells a little more of the story. But overlaying that with real color about behaviors, purchases, and preferences can start to help you see so much more than the gray of typical voter data. 

These insights are not only powerful for understanding specific voters but also which “lookalike” voters in our database are likely to have similar leanings and stances. These additional cohorts can then be engaged accordingly to effectively expand your target constituencies. 

For instance, BRIDGE has expansive data about military veterans. In fact, we are number one, according to Truthset. We also know who donates to political campaigns. We know if someone votes by mail or in person. Marriage status. Education. Where they tend to vote. Are they a smoker? What does census data tell us about socioeconomic factors? 

All of this info comes together to paint a vibrant picture of the person you are trying to reach. And it’s all based on personally identifiable information (PII)  information. This is permissioned data that people have opted in to provide. And it is exactly the data that could spell the difference between success and failure in your next campaign. 

If you’re ready to put the advantage of people-based data to work for you this political season, we’re happy to help you take the first step.

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