Will Database-Driven Targeting Help Campaigns Connect and Survive?

Hidden in a Post article today on the presidential campaigns’ precarious financial shape was this remark:

Ken Mehlman, who helped plan President Bush’s reelection strategy four years ago, said each campaign is trying to isolate demographic groups and geographic areas to target with phone calls and mail.

Think about it: if you’re running out of money, one way to save (besides cutting the press plane) is to microtarget your outreach so that you can get the most out of every dollar. Some candidates are reportedly considering blowing cash on a Superbowl ad, but others will be looking instead at zip code-targeted cable tv buys. What about adding blog ads or geo-targeted search and online display ads? You could do worse than targeting California-based online readers of the major political newspapers, for example.

It’s hard to imagine that campaigns that have raised tens of millions of dollars could be going broke, but that’s apparently one consequence of this tight primary election schedule. Glad that’s working out so well for everybody.


Written by
Colin Delany
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  • I am not sure if search and blog ads are an effective GOTV tool. Blog ads we know are great for branding, but have a diminishing ROI. Search ads still have not been a proven medium in campaigns for voter turnout.

    It is also hard to track these types of efforts when looking to turn voters out to the polls. They can be great for list building, but how do you make the link between these ads and an actual vote?

  • Hi Riche, I agree that they’re not proven yet, but that doesn’t mean that someone shouldn’t TRY to prove them. The cost of a big search or even a display ad buy is trivial compared with the cost of running a TV ad in LA, which relatively few people will remember seeing anyway unless you can afford to saturate the airwaves. And with close to two weeks before the Super Duper Tuesday primaries, this is more than just GOTV — there’s still a little time to build those lists. And lists = volunteers, donations and (in theory, at least) votes.