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.