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Tags: facebook | political | ads | data

Facebook Turning Its Sites, User Data To Political Ads

By    |   Friday, 28 November 2014 08:33 PM

Facebook users are likely to see a lot more political advertising in their news feeds, as the social network is pushing campaigns to buy extremely inexpensive advertising that is targeted only to specific users rather than pay high dollars for advertising that reaches everyone.

The social network has made billions already through selling targeted advertising based on users' information and web surfing habits, reports The Washington Post.

The new model of advertising is getting closer to taking off than at any point in the past, and changes that have taken place on Facebook over the past few years have enabled the site to gather more information than ever.

For example, back in 2008, when Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn ran for reelection, Facebook did not have "Like" buttons built into its system. "Likes" aren't only on Facebook to alert users' friends that they approve of a status update, but also exist for the site to build lists of users' preferences.

But this year, Cornyn told his campaign team to expand and to "do digital right...and innovate," his campaign manager, Brendan Steinhauser, told The Post. "When he sat down and he interviewed me, he said, 'I want to bring the Republican party into the 21st century when it comes to digital and when it comes to minority outreach,' He's a true believer in it."

The Cornyn campaign turned to an external firm, which matched its voter list with Facebook users' data while Cornyn was running the GOP primary against Rep. Steve Stockman.

Using Facebook allowed Cornyn's campaign to reach hundreds of thousands of voters for under 20 cents each, where traditional mailings would cost at least 50 cents each and up.

And while "snail mail" lets specific voters be targeted, Facebook's feedback is immediate, allowing campaigns to track if their money is being spent effectively.

Facebook came up with an even more effective change by November, partnering with the tech company Acxiom to create an interface that allows campaigns to upload any postal list they wish.

"They'll match it to your Facebook account and give you those users in an audience within a matter of hours." said campaign political director Josh Eboch. "You can match postal addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, user IDs, if you have those, or even app IDs. If you have any of that data, they can use it," Eboch said. But the postal address gives campaigns much more "flexibility."

And as Facebook not only has users' email addresses, but preferences including birthdays, occupations, hobbies, family information, and friends' names. The Acxiom system provides even more data to Facebook, even including having a system that matches shopper loyalty cards  and their email addresses to Facebook users, so advertising can be targeted to them based on their shopping habits as well.

Cornyn's campaign also used Facebook to target Hispanic voters through an ad titled "Mi Papa," and it was the best ad of the campaign season, said Eboch.

"We saw that [the ad], run to Spanish-speaking voters on Facebook, was the best performing ad that we had all year long," Eboch said. "That made it into our heavy rotation on broadcast television, because we realized that our audience was engaging with the ad more than the other Spanish-language ad."

Virginia GOP candidate Ed Gillespie used Facebook marketing just before the Nov. 4 midterm election,  and his campaign said earlier this month that the gamble nearly resulted in his upsetting Virginia powerhouse Sen. Mark Warner.

On the Sunday before Election Day, Gillespie made a photo-op stop at a Virginia Beach branch of Buffalo Wild Wings after his digital adviser found that the sports chain was the second-most common Facebook "like" among conservative-leaning independents.

The campaign paid Facebook just $100 to make sure the image popped to the top of the newsfeeds of more than 25,000 targeted Virginians.

Gillespie said after the election that the staged posting "made perfect sense to me," and that
digital campaigns help candidates who are otherwise being outspent.

Targeted advertising also allows campaigns to "respond to things without responding to things," Eboch said.

For example, when Stockman attacked Cornyn for his stance on guns, the Cornyn campaign targeted Stockman supporters worried about gun rights with an ad targeted to them that encouraged them to support Cornyn's conceal-carry bill.

"It allowed us to respond without doing so publicly and giving him more attention than he deserves," said Eboch.

Related stories:


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Facebook users are likely to see a lot more political advertising in their news feeds, as the social network is pushing campaigns to buy extremely inexpensive advertising that is targeted only to specific users rather than pay high dollars for advertising that reaches...
facebook, political, ads, data
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2014-33-28
Friday, 28 November 2014 08:33 PM
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