Saturday, October 25, 2014
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Christie shoutout to Pa. voter targeting firm

How political campaigns find your iPhone on Election Day

Christie shoutout to Pa. voter targeting firm

Thousands of New Jersey iPhone users were reminded by mobile messaing and English- and Spanish-language video ads to run out to the polls and vote for Gov. Chris Christie's re-election last Tuesday. The ads were posted to their phones by Apple's iAd App Network and set up by CampaignGrid, the Fort Washington-based consulting firm -- they specialize in Republicans -- that keeps tabs on voters by merging their publicly-available voter-registration records and commercially-available "lifestyle and consumer data" (e.g. from Web sites you visit) into its massive National Online Voter File.

"We put every television commercial online," Jeff Dittus, cofounder of CampaignGrid parent Audience Partners, told me. "It's really the first time a voter-targeted mobile ad has been used." The firm also did an online-video buy coordinated with Christie's Cablevision TV buy. Dittus says the Christie campaign modeled new techniques he predicts will be common in the 2014 Congressional elections.

How does CampaignGrid know these new ads hit the spot? "We counted 10 million impressions, to registered voters." If it's tough to know how many changed their minds or decided to vote thanks to the ads, one thing's for sure: the campaign "saved Election Day to their calendar," said Dittus.

ALSO: "CampaignGrid was part of a very sophisticated operation in terms of targeting individuals," Christie's lead strategist, Mike DuHaime, told me. "When you win by as much as Gov. Christie did, no one little thing made all the difference. But CampaignGrid's been part of our team for a long time. In 2009 they were very sophisticated; they are more so now. This time they helped us do a better job targeting very specific voters we wanted to reach. We always did television and mailboxes; they have now overmatched that info online.

"Finding very specific voters online is more efficient and more effective. They were able to do very high-level targeting of voters who weren’t frequent in the past to get them to come out. And Democrats that were willing to vote for Gov Christie. We targeted Hispanic voters like they hadn’t been in the past. Winning 51 pct of Hispanics is tremendous. And three times the African Americans that voted for us last time. Campaign Grid helped target those voters. They came to us about sending ads on smartphones. I said, yeah, do it!  I have anecodtal evidence it was positive. I haven't heard there was any resentment at all. It's one of the things we weren’t able to do before. It was cost effective. I view online efforts as some of the most cost effective. It’s incredibly efficient if you do it right. It’s only growing more efficient."

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Does this bring the social-media GOP even with the Democratics? Democratic consultants like the group now known as Civis Analytics (whose financial backers include Eric Schmidt of Google) and Andrew Bleeker's Bully Pulpit helped boost Obama's victorious campaign and its massive get-out-the-vote effort in 2012. Dittus said his firm has helped "raise the bar by flowing its voter data through iAds and Cablevision. "(Updated)

Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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