Voter Targeting Comes to Political Video Ads

Ad firms that serve political campaigns and advocacy groups including CampaignGrid and Mixpo are bolstering their online video offerings. New cross-platform video capabilities come as political campaigns are starting to think about where their digital media dollars will go. On a more general media budget scale some campaigns are recognizing that, as supported by a new study, a significant percentage of voters no longer view live TV – where campaigns are accustomed to placing most of their persuasion ad money.

Voter and Consumer Data Informs Video Targeting

CampaignGrid, which employs several data sets including the Republican National Committee’s voter data to target voters online, has partnered with video ad network TidalTV to enable multi-sourced targeting for in-stream and in-banner video advertising. CampaignGrid mainly serves GOP candidates and organizations, and works with around 100 “match partner” sites – online publishers or services like ISPs or financial services firms that collect user names, addresses, and phone numbers through opt-in registrations. The company won’t disclose its matching partners, but CampaignGrid Founder Jeff Dittus said, “We only match sites that have opt in permissions.”

The firm matches voter data from the RNC and other sources – along with consumer data showing income, purchase behavior, or other information – with the registration data gathered from its partners. It then strips out personally identifiable information to create segments of likely voters that can be targeted through online ads. Now, it can enable that sophisticated form of targeting for video ads through the TidalTV partnership.

Similar forms of voter data-matched ad targeting have been done by the large online portals – AOL, Yahoo, and MSN – all of which have lots of user registration data that has been matched for the RNC and Democratic National Committee in the hopes of reaching party supporters through online ads.

Interactivity for In-Stream Video

An early video ad entrant to the political market has been Mixpo, which until recently only offered in-banner video ads. The tech firm this week unveiled a new platform allowing for distribution of interactive video ads in in-stream and mobile environments including tablets and apps. While political advertisers often use both in-banner and in-stream video, many buy in-stream ads more often throughout the campaign cycle for persuasion purposes, and may only tack on in-banner ads late in the cycle when looking to reach undecided voters with a persuasion message.

Because Mixpo’s enhanced platform allows for interaction in all forms of video ad units including in-stream, it could be especially interesting to campaigns looking to build their supporter lists, poll voters about issues, or make it easy for people to share video on Facebook or post about it to Twitter.

“All campaigns – political and others – are now including sharing or links to Twitter” in video ads, said Mixpo CEO Anupam Gupta. “They’re even including real-time Twitter feeds to make the ads more dynamic.”

The company also enables video selection within ads, so advertisers can run several TV spots in a single online unit to test and optimize, or sequence a set of messages.

Meanwhile, video ad network Tremor Video – which also aims to reach the political ad market – will soon allow any advertiser to use its self-serve measurement platform to measure video campaign metrics including brand lift across network buys, even when they aren’t running ads through Tremor. The company recently raised a $37 million funding round, and, according to Anthony Risicato, GM for Tremor’s video hub division, the company has discussed video ad sales with several political campaigns recently.

Dwindling Live TV Use Among Voters

Use of online video advertising is growing among corporate brands, and political campaigns are beginning to recognize the value of the medium when it comes to persuading voters through emotive sound and visuals, combining influential messages with immediate calls to action, and extending the reach of their television spots. However, as media consumption patterns shift, TV could lose its place as the sole forum for persuasive political ads. According to a bipartisan study released this week, 31 percent of all likely voters don’t watch live TV; rather, they watch programs on DVR during which they may skip through commercial breaks, or they watch online or in mobile environments.

The same is true of likely voters in important battleground states and key demographic groups, said the study. The research was conducted by video ad firm Say Media and co-authored by Republican digital agency Targeted Victory and Democratic digital agency Chong and Koster, along with pollsters on both sides of the aisle. In Florida, 28 percent of likely voters surveyed said they don’t watch live television. And in the state of Ohio – where President Barack Obama made a campaign stop this week to push his jobs plan – 38 percent of likely voters aren’t consuming live TV.


A third of both Republicans and Democrats surveyed said they don’t watch live television, as did 28 percent of Independents. The study relies on data gathered on 800 likely voters and an additional 300 in Ohio and Florida.

The study also showed that nearly 90 percent of those surveyed regularly skip ads when watching on their DVRs. It’s no surprise video ad seller Say Media wants to convince political media buyers that fewer voters are seeing their TV ads.

“I would be lying if I didn’t say the fact that there’s an enormous amount of advertising budget that’s going to be in play for 2012 wasn’t interesting to us,” said Matt Rosenberg, VP Solutions at Say Media. “Our business depends on understanding how culture is moving and there’s nothing more culturally relevant than the upcoming political cycle.”

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