Report: Digital Age Coming to Political Advertising

Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 08:45 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The digital age is calling, and politicians are starting to listen.

"In politics, as in advertising, you have to follow people by the choices they make," Analytics Media Group founder Larry Grisolano told The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reports that political consulting firm Deep Root Analytics and other data analysts are buying consumer information from data-mining firms, including movie and TV-measurement firms like Rentrak and Nielsen, as well as credit-score firm Experian.

But new targeting tools are looking at the viewing habits of individuals —  not age brackets —  and Cablevision and Comcast Spotlight, a division of Comcast Corp., have started providing campaigns with more specific audience information to give them detailed, real-time information about what and when people are watching.

The analytics firms then use computers to sort through the information and steer campaign efforts, as they do for businesses' marketing campaigns.

The result is revolutionizing the billion-dollar business of political advertising, the Journal reports.

"Instead of sending a letter to a post box, we're sending a 30-second spot to a TV set," Warren Schlichting, senior vice president of Dish media sales, told the Journal.

President Barack Obama's re-election team in 2012 pioneered these media cost-benefit analytics, the Journal noted, and Grisolano was the campaign's top media adviser then.

"[W]e decided to buy [media] differently," Grisolano told the Journal. "The data gave us the confidence to try something different."

A new study shows just how targeted political ads can get, USA Today reports.

The study by Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group found that attack ads in particular have a ready-made audience on crime shows, which carry the highest share of negative political ads among all of the spots aired within a genre, USA Today reports.

Nearly 77 percent of the 979 spots that ran during police, mystery and suspense shows were political attack ads, followed by more than 70 percent of the spots aired on entertainment magazine shows, the study found.

"If you are watching between the hours of 7 [p.m.] and 11 [p.m.], you already are tuning in for some sort of violence or character assassination," Elizabeth Wilner, who oversees Kantar's political advertising operation, told USA Today. "You are primed . . . for drama anyway."

Campaigns will devote about 57 percent of their overall advertising budget to broadcast TV, say projections by Kantar's group, and another 15 percent to cable, the Journal reports.

Digital advertising, meanwhile, will account for just 7 percent of the average campaign budget, less than half of the amount most candidates will spend on direct mail, the Journal reports.

It's beginning to change, though.

When New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie wanted to reach Hispanic voters during his re-election campaign last year, data analysts discovered that viewers of "Dama y Obrero," a Spanish-language telenovella about a woman torn between two men, would likely be more receptive to his message than viewers of "Porque el Amor Manda," a romantic comedy, the Journal reports.

"These are calculations we just couldn't do before," Alex Lundry, a Deep Root co-founder who led the data team for Republican Mitt Romney's presidential bid in 2012, told the Journal.

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