February 19, 2014, 10:57 am
Get ready for even more targeted data in campaigns
By Julian Hattem
The next presidential election will be more grounded in data, analytics and mirco-targeting of voters than ever before, President Obama’s former campaign manager said on Wednesday.
Jim Messina said that the president’s 2012 reelection campaign only scratched the surface of what will soon be possible to get campaigns’ messages out to voters.
“I think the evolution of campaigns on both sides will be an even further personalized campaign using data and marrying technology in a much deeper way than we did,” he said at the Beyond the Dot conference, an event on new domain names.
“I think more and more you are going to get narrow-casted campaigns directed to you that feel different than the other campaigns. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a national tone and tenor, but I think that in the 2016 campaign, both sides will try to have a unique discussion with you in a way that’s never been possible before.”
The 2012 Obama campaign famously deployed advanced data analysis and new technology to track voters and get them involved in the campaign. But next time, he said, that focus will be even more targeted so that campaigns can better focus their attention on specific voters who are undecided or care about specific issues.
“We’ll be able to buy ads in ways we weren’t able to on a variety of issues. And if you care about, let’s say climate change, we will have a really deep conversation with you abut those issues in a way that I think is very healthy for our democracy,” Messina said.
The revolution has already partly begun.
Last month, the satellite TV companies Dish and DirecTV announced that statewide political campaigns will be able to target adds to specific households that subscribe to their services. So, for instance, if a campaign is looking to capitalize on retired swing voters in rural Florida or devoted young Democrats in urban Colorado, the companies will help them find those people.
The Internet radio station Pandora also recently announced that it can tell with 75 percent to 80 percent accuracy how its users will vote based on their music preferences, and will let campaigns take advantage of that information.
The service’s algorithm starts with a user’s ZIP code and slices up listeners from there. Diehard country fans, for instance, are reportedly more likely to vote Republican.
Messina recently took over as a co-chairman of the super-PAC Priorities USA, which is already pledging support to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should she choose to run for president in 2016.
On Wednesday, he said should would run the “best positioned campaign on my side to win the general.”
In his speech, Messina also applauded new domain name expansions, which are leading to thousands of new iterations of the letters that come after the “dot” in an Internet address, like .com or .org.
A website that ended in .barackobama or .dems, he said, would help those sites be more secure and would reassure people that their contributions were going to the right place.