WASHINGTON, D.C.-When can digital media be its own worst enemy? In the heat of an election cycle, when time is finite and decisions are made minute-to-minute by lots of people who don’t always agree.
This is when organizational structure is critical to political campaigns—from their agencies to their data suppliers and tech partners, was the consensus at a panel discussion at the recent Beet.TV summit on advertising and politics. The session also revealed that when it comes to human capital, not just the politically savvy are the best candidates to work at specialty political shops.
While the ability to onboard huge amounts of data and move it from platform to platform has become easier, decision-making has not, according to Zac Moffatt, Co-Founder of Targeted Victory.
“What makes it harder is digital is kind of its own worst enemy because there are so many decision points you have to make,” Moffatt said in response to a question from moderator Erik Requidan of Intermarkets. “It’s harder to put $10,000 up on digital advertising through an approval process for a campaign than it is to put a million dollars on television.”
Everything could look great on paper two years in advance of an election, but “When you’re four months out or two months out and the polls are getting tight and people are freaking out, that’s the challenge,” said Moffatt. “You have the conviction to stick with the plan you think you need to execute in order to win. I think we’re still grappling with that component of it.”
Jordan Lieberman, Politics & Public Affairs Lead at Audience Partners, acknowledged that complex digital options pose advantages and stumbling blocks.
“As our customers become more educated, it’s wonderful because they know what they’re asking for,” Lieberman said. “But sometimes walking them back is even a harder challenge than selling them,” for example explaining why “I can’t run your 60-second ad to seniors today and get 100 percent viewability and reach and all that stuff.”
The sheer magnitude of “platinum-level” consumer targeting data available to political campaigns dwarfs anything to which brand marketers have access, noted Mark Jablonowski, Chief Technology Officer of DSPolitical, a digital advertising network for Democrats and Progressives.
“We’re working with files that have close to 100 billion data points in them, moving these around with multiple vendors and making them actionable and targetable,” said Jablonowski. He then revealed a new integration of DSPolitical’s democraticads.com platform and NGP VAN that will “provide access to our programmatic audience buying technology to literally every candidate on the democratic side in America.”
When the discussion turned to human capital for political campaigns, differences emerged over whether people need to be steeped in politics to be effective team members. While Moffatt said that while his staffers come from backgrounds as varied as comScore and Marriott, they don’t necessarily have political experience. “The reason they come is that they get to grapple with problems that the entire country faces,” said Moffatt.
Contrarily, Jablonowski said DSPolitical wants the political background because of the time demands that campaigns deal with. “We actually hire a lot of political staffers that are technically inclined as well. But first and foremost, they are political staffers,” he said.
On the subject of talent, Lieberman said his company’s best intern in 2012 “is now running our political buying operation,” with “tens of millions of dollars going through his computer.”
You are watching videos from Beet.TV politics and advertising summit presented by OpenX along with Intermarkets. Please find additional videos from the series here.