The Honey Badger’s Guide to Winning

ICYMI: This part three of our 2014 Political Series. Don’t miss part one and part two!

There’s a famous quote in advertising: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” As an industry, we’re closer than ever before to solving this age-old problem. With mountains of digital data at our disposal, we can finally know “which half” is which—and optimize the campaign to eliminate waste and increase ROI.

The real challenge, now, is how to tame that mountain of data.

What is a DMP anyway?

First, what is a DMP? A Data Management Platform (DMP) is simply a piece of software that collects, organizes, and stores data in a way that allows users to draw useful insights and take meaningful actions. DMPs also work hand-in-hand with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) to intelligently target ads to voter segments.

Since DMPs have the ability to match offline and online data, they are the perfect solution to the political campaign’s biggest challenge: integrating data across channels for cohesive messaging.

Matchmaking Made Simple

There are three main types of offline-online “matches” used in campaigns:

1. True 1:1 Match

This is the best way to ensure that you’ve found the exact online persona that you’re looking for. This match is made when all the data points match up with the online profile. Because of the high level of specificity, a 1:1 match search will generally be about 30-40% successful.

2. “Soft” Match

Because information found offline and online can sometimes differ even for the same person, a number of match campaigns will instead rely on “soft” matches. Basically, rather than five of five data points matching up exactly, a “soft” match will line up along three or four of the desired data points. The idea is the the online persona is highly likely to be the real life person desired, but not 100% guaranteed.

3. Postal Address Match

This least specific form of matching uses IP addresses to make inferences on a person based on what one knows about their neighbors. While not always helpful to guess things like party affiliation, this matching strategy can prove quite accurate when looking at attributes like household income or net worth.

However, one of the best ways to increase offline-online matches is to match based on email addresses. As Dave Hendricks pointed out in a recent ClickZ article, email addresses are unique, persistent, and represent real people online. The more email addresses in your database, the better set up you are to target those people wherever they go online.

Knowledge Is Power

Our CBDO Mike Snow put it best recently at the MediaPost Marketing Politics panel, “Learning the New ABCs of Data” :

The first step to any sort of online targeting is knowing who your best audience is and what message they respond best to. With a DMP, you can…

  • Measure your organic traffic for a barometer of who your target voters really are
  • Zero in on your target voters’ passions—which issues really fire them up?
  • Define audiences for finely tuned, targeted messages

With this kind of online listening, you gain an understanding of your audience that you just can’t glean from a TV commercial. Banner and email advertising are often thought of as great strategies for fundraising (and they are!), but this kind of intent listening can do more than drive dollars. It can drive decisions.

The Legend of the “Honey Badger”

Going into the special election for Florida’s 13th district House seat last week, Republican David Jolly’s chances were looking grim. John Rogers, the deputy political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, told Advertising Age, “Projections a few weeks out showed that we were losing absentees by an amount we didn’t like and that we needed to make a change.”

Using voter file information and a lean “Honey Badger” database, the NRCC’s data team developed analytical models to determine which voters were most likely to cast absentee ballots. Based on these insights, the NRCC’s independent expenditure campaign group launched to make the absentee voting process as easy as possibly.

Representative Jolly won the election with 48.4% of the vote, compared to his Democrat competitor Alex Sink’s 46.55%. What’s even more impressive is the proof that the team’s absentee ballot strategy worked: registered Republicans submitted 54,184 absentee ballots compared to registered Democrats’ 48,177.

Where Do I Start?

While large-scale operations like presidential campaigns benefit greatly from contracting and using their own personal DMP, a great way for most campaigns to get started is by working with a third-party company that understands how to optimize DMP use. The benefits of doing it this way are multi-fold. There is no learning curve because a third-party company, like Intermarkets, already has the expertise necessary to seamlessly integrate a campaign’s own data with trusted third-party sources and use it to make actionable insights.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a DMP can help your specific campaign, we’d love to chat—reach out to us here. One of the most important things to remember about using a DMP is to start early. The key to eliminating waste and boosting ROI lies in learning as much about your target audience as early as possible.


ICMYI: You can find part one of the series here.

Whether you’re reading this from Madison Avenue or Pennsylvania Avenue, your ultimate marketing goal is probably the same—get people to take action. The trade secrets that brand advertisers use to make behemoths like Coca-Cola and Apple into household names are secrets no longer. As Election Day approaches, you can use the same branding and marketing strategies as the top advertisers and agencies to propel your political campaign or cause to victory.

Here are six simple steps to help you implement Madison Ave strategies for political campaigns:

1. Set clear goals.

The big brands know that before you can measure success, you have to define it. While direct response techniques work well early on, branding and persuasion become more important as Election Day approaches. As your campaign goals change, so should your advertising strategy. Market saturation through ad network inventory may be perfect for mobilizing voters before Election Day, while site-specific rich media ads work better to emphasize your candidate’s unique value. Your goals will then inform your success metrics. For instance, while click-through rates are an important gauge in direct response campaigns, a branding campaign may instead measure success by increases in share of voice or offline action.

2. Reach the right people.

Did you know that the typical web user is served 1,707 banner ads per month? In such an ad-saturated environment, the best way to attract the support you need is to micro-target ads, focusing on conversion by speaking to specific voter groups on the subjects that matter to them. Presuming you already know who you want to speak to, today’s targeting technology can provide the where and how. Using non-personally identifiable information, advanced algorithms can match offline voting and donating behaviors to online buying and reading behaviors to help you find and understand your target audience.

3. Listen to your audience.

The key to persuasion isn’t so much talking as it is listening. With Intermarkets’ advanced web tools, you can gather information on your users’ online behaviors and preferences, empowering you to tailor your message and strategy. For example, if all your conversions are coming from one website, you can optimize your campaign to only run on that website or other websites like it. Using a conversion pixel, you can also exclude users who have already signed up for your email list from being asked to sign up again. Audience targeting can even help you reach outside your base by discovering “look-alike” voters based on their behavioral and demographic profiles.

4. Understand inventory types.

Different types of ad inventory serve different purposes, so it’s important to have a good mix in any successful display campaign. The pros of direct buys are easy—when you work with the publisher directly, you can enjoy premium spots, guaranteed placement, and rapid response messaging. Quickly capitalize on a speech’s success or spotlight an opponent’s misstep—all before the next news cycle.  Another important type of inventory is remnant. Normally bought through ad networks or exchanges, remnant inventory can provide better market saturation and a lower dollar return. When combined with programmatic buying, remnant inventory can also target voters and “look-alikes” wherever they go online.

5. Think beyond the standard banner ad.

Static ads are just the beginning of what you can do with digital advertising. As Election Day approaches, TV and video inventory dwindles, and quality, standout digital advertising experiences can make or break a campaign. Rising Star ad units like the Billboard or the Pushdown provide large, interactive canvases that support TV assets, forms, and multiple calls to action. Users can expand an ad to see more content, play video, fill out a contact form, or even share your ad on Twitter and Facebook—all without leaving the page of origin. Plus, Rising Star ad units are a proven way to improve your ad interactions. In recent studies, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that Rising Star units performed nearly 3x better than standard units in universal interaction rate. At Intermarkets, we’ve seen these units increase interaction rates up to 27.1%—6x that of standard units and almost 3x that of Rising Star ads trafficked through other channels.

6. Don’t underestimate the power of ad-serving technology.

Ad delivery technology is one of the most overlooked aspects of online advertising, yet how an ad is served can determine whether your ads get noticed. Box out the competition on key sites with an ad “roadblock,” or use ad pairings for persuasion. As a part of the memorable Apple “Mac vs. PC” campaign, the brand ran companion ads with “PC” in the lower unit, looking up at “Mac” in the leaderboard unit. The PC ad block was filled with text, while the Mac unit was bare, relaying Apple’s core brand message of simplicity in a subtle yet powerful way. A political campaign could easily use this same strategy to highlight the differences between different candidates or disparate policies.

This campaign season, combine your team’s tried and true political know-how with the most cutting-edge advertising strategies available. Most of all, don’t hesitate to employ the help of an expert—or better yet, a team of experts! We’ve worked with hundreds of political campaigns at all levels, and would be happy to help your team optimize your campaign—reach out to our solutions team at any time for a free campaign consultation.


Today’s post marks the kickoff of our new blog series, “The (R)Evolution of the Modern Political Campaign.” As this year’s campaign season revs up, 2014 is set up to be a record-breaking year for political spending and innovation, and you need to know what to expect!

Digital Is the New Black

In a recent Media Post articleConsumers in Motion Managing Director Dan Hodges claims, “A new standard has been set for political advertising.” We couldn’t agree more! If nothing else, the 2012 elections taught us that digital is indispensable to the campaign process. In another article on, Versa CEO and founder Keya Dannenbaum summarized how crucial the use of online data was to President Obama’s 2012 win:

“Campaigns had an unprecedented ability to know everything about voters—from social data to commercial data to public data to their own internal records from past campaigns, especially in Obama’s case—and the ones who used this data to build prediction models were the most successful in fundraising, voter persuasion, and turnout, which are the three essentially elements of any campaign.”

Where Are Your Dollars Going?

This year, billions of campaign dollars will be funneled into securing the 435 House seats, 35 Senate seats, and 34 governorships up for grabs this year—the question is, how to make them go the furthest.

What to Expect in 2014

  • Incorporation of best “big brand” practices into political campaigns
  • Heavier use of data to micro-target voters
  • More robust analytics to measure true ROI and better allocate precious funds
  • Reaching voters in their own space through social media and social advertising
  • Using online video to match the scale of TV with the added bonus of advanced metrics
  • Reaching voters on every screen to fit their mobile, cross-channel lifestyles

In this series, we’ll be diving into everything from basic best practices to the ABCs of DMPs to how to make social and video advertising work for you. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, subscribe via email in the sidebar or follow us on Twitter (#FTW2014) or Facebook.

Political Series Links

Part 1: “We’re All ‘Mad’ Here”
Part 2: “The Honey Badger’s Guide to Winning” 
Part 3:  “Data Mining and Voter Targeting: A User Guide”
Part 4: “Campaigning in a Cross-Channel World”
Part 5: “Beyond TV: Online Video Comes of Age”