CJ Column


May the best data-crunching presidential candidate win!

Candidates in the 2012 presidential race are utilizing the latest techniques and technologies to spread their message and garner support. This third installment in our series focuses on the resources behind campaign efforts to target supporters online.

Both the Democrats and Republicans are employing the third-party expertise of agencies that specialize in online marketing and advertising. Blue State Digital handles digital strategy and technology services for the Obama campaign, for example, while CampaignGrid provided targeted online advertising services - via instant analytics using a huge database on a majority of US voters - for at least one Republican candidate. Among the many other players is Google, which offers a multi-platform marketing strategy called "Four Screens to Victory" that helps candidates reach voters across TV, computer, tablet and smartphone screens.

Presidential candidates are also relying more than ever on in-house technologies and technical experts. The Obama re-election team, for example, established an in-house analytics department in Chicago that reportedly utilizes a huge database on millions of potential supporters. This highly sophisticated system enables quick, cost-effective targeting and personalized online interaction such as the provision of different video content based on profile characteristics like age, gender, voting record and Facebook contact information.

Obama's team also operates a volunteer Tech Field Office near the Silicon Valley where technically gifted young people are contributing digital expertise and perhaps innovations that will give the campaign a winning edge. In the 2008 campaign, a young member of the Obama team developed ingenious A/B testing techniques that significantly increased online donations by simply tweaking website elements like colors and images. This same developer established a company called Optimizely that is using similar techniques to enhance user engagement - such as volunteer work, donations and rally attendance - for both the Romney and Obama campaigns.

Such sophisticated data analytics are playing an increasingly vital role in political campaigns and may significantly impact the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. Whatever the final results, you can be sure the corporate world is watching and will soon be implementing the same methods for product marketing and advertising.





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