If your campaign is in the business of targeting, and it should be if it intends to be competitive, then you will need to implement an effective targeting strategy. Few do targeting better than Campaign Grid. C&E spoke with Campaign Grid’s CEO in early October. Today we follow up to see how the firm fared in the 2010 election cycle and what technologies will be relevant heading toward 2012.
Campaign Grid does not work with candidates directly – instead, it works with a campaign’s consultants to maximize the efficacy of targeted messaging. It specializes in delivering a message to the right voter at the right time – and its tactics often yield results.
During the 2010 election season, Campaign Grid handled online voter targeting for 140 campaigns in the U.S. and Canada. “We won nearly 80 percent of the races [we worked on], and we delivered close to a billion impressions at a highly targeted level,” says Jordan Lieberman, Campaign Grid’s vice president of business development, who is also C&E’s former publisher.
Looking toward the future, Lieberman is most excited about “retargeting” tools capable of targeting voters based on their online behavior and site viewing habits. This involves extracting information from cookies that are left on a browser which almost all Websites use to deliver personalized information to a unique user. (If a site you visit remembers your password or your past page views, there is a cookie somewhere keeping track of your data.) Retargeting identifies those cookies and serves up a targeted message based on your surfing habits.
“If you went to ESPN at any time, I would target you as an ESPN fan and serve ads to you trying to get you to buy Super Bowl tickets,” says Lieberman. “If you visit the site of a candidate or a conservative news network, I know you are a Tea Party fan or activist and we serve ads directly to you targeted to your interests. That increases ROI (return on investment) arguably tenfold.”
Another of Campaign Grid’s tools that came of age in 2010 is targeted direct mail, which eliminates a major shortcoming of conventional direct mail—that it is almost always discarded unread and it is impossible to detect how many people actually receive its message. By delivering that same piece of mail online to the intended target, an impression is guaranteed and the total number of impressions is easily measurable.
Perhaps the most useful recent campaign innovation is online video. The explosion of video on the Web in recent years has made serving highly effective and creative ads online an indispensible campaign tactic. Many political campaigns used it effectively in this election season, and Campaign Grid expects to see its use grow even further next year, even though it is not a major election year. “I expect we will see a lot more video in 2011,” says Lieberman. “In public affairs campaigns specifically.”
Targeted messaging online requires gathering a fair amount of personal information on Internet users. The fact that this personally identifiable information (PII) is in the hands of professional targeters raises inevitable security concerns. But Lieberman says that Campaign Grid never shares any of the personal data that it gathers. “PII is sacred to us,” he pledges.
Lieberman is bullish about the company’s future as well as about that of the industry as a whole. This year Campaign Grid exceeded prior fundraising totals with returns on investment in some cases of seven to one.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org