Nate Silver and Other Leading Political Industry Experts Confirm Big Data’s Growing Role in the Election Cycle
PHOENIX - While the rise of political digital advertising was a clear, emerging theme long before polls closed and ballots were counted on Election Day in 2012, it is the power and promise of microtargeted advertising and messaging which has emerged in post-election analyses as the “it” trend to watch, according to a newly released study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
The IAB whitepaper, “Big Data and Microtargeted Political Ads in Election 2012: The Challenge Ahead,” serves as a follow-up and bookend to IAB’s initial research and whitepaper on campaign microtargeting, released in October 2012, which explored the basic tenets of political targeting and how it may be harnessed and leveraged to amplify existing campaign tactics – such as recruiting, fundraising, get-out-the-vote and persuasion.
Unveiled at the sixth IAB Annual Leadership Meeting: “Big Data & Big Ideas: Friends, Enemies, or Frenemies?,” held at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, the new IAB study provides political industry expert analyses of microtargeting’s role in the 2012 race – including insights from Nate Silver of The New York Times’ renown FiveThirtyEight.com blog and author of the bestselling “The Signal and the Noise” – and an in-depth discussion of the growing impact of the microtargeting online space.
In particular, Silver notes that the future of politics belongs to microtargeted campaigning and Big Data analytics-led campaigns, saying, “I would hope that the next campaigns, in 2016, would develop their analytical teams from the get-go. Where it’s not just a matter of hiring pollsters, and messaging guys, it’s also a matter of finding people who can extract – to use the book, here – extract the signal from the noise.”
“The most obvious, yet most underrated, finding in this timely and telling study is that political microtargeting in digital advertising truly matters – and, most importantly, can help make the difference between a winning race and a losing one in close elections,” said Patrick Dolan, Executive Vice President and COO, IAB. “In today’s polemical and closely divided electoral ecosystem, moving several thousand votes in an election can determine who wins a close race. That means microtargeting is here to stay.”
Key findings from the IAB whitepaper include:
- Microtargeting became a key aspect of online political advertising in 2012
- Microtargeted political ad buys grew as a share of online ads and as the technology used becomes more commonly deployed
- Microtargeting was instrumental to the success of some campaigns in Election 2012, and was a key part of wins in close swing states in the Presidential race
- Microtargeted political ads played crucial roles by providing scalable, custom messaging during the entire campaign cycle – as well as aiding recruitment, fundraising and get-out-the-vote
- Microtargeted ads online were increasingly part of a holistic, comprehensive campaign outreach strategy, where online spend was conjoined with tailored cable and broadcast buys in an aligned effort
The report also looked ahead at the future role that microtargeting will play in coming election cycles in terms of both challenges and opportunities:
- “Tweaking” targeted ads by monitoring voter reaction in a refined political engagement process is an opportunity in future campaigns
- Retail politicking – such as “door-to-door” campaigning – will be executed more and more in tandem with microtargeted messages and tactics
- Privacy issues will continue to be considered and addressed by microtargeting firms in campaigns at all levels
- Microtargeted ads will be part of a more data analytics-driven culture in future campaigns, while subjective decision-making on ad spend will decrease
- Mobile apps and their use in microtargeting in campaigns will be a challenge
“The research conducted and findings identified in this paper have shed new light on the opportunities presented by microtargeting, which should catch the attention of aspiring and current lawmakers alike,” said Mike Zaneis, Senior Vice President, Public Policy and General Counsel, IAB. “Moreover, they demonstrate the power that ad microtargeting can bring not only to times of campaigning, but to times of governing as well, as this efficient and effective tactic can be deployed to move the needle on issues, not just candidates.”
The IAB study was commissioned by the IAB Data Council and authored by Nathan Abse, a journalist and writer who covers politics and is currently a senior correspondent for 1105 Media.
To download the entire whitepaper, please visit www.iab.net/politicaladvertising.
About the IAB
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is comprised of more than 500 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. Working with its member companies, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City with a Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.iab.net.