Wendy Davis Opponent Is Working with Data-Hungry Ad Firm

In Heated Texas Race for Governor, GOP Hopeful Could Access Loads of Ad Data

By Published on .

Credit: Wendy Davis

One of the most-watched gubernatorial races of the year has access to consumer data that only a few years ago would not have been available for digital political advertising.

Targeted Victory, the firm that ran digital advertising for Mitt Romney's failed 2012 presidential bid, has enhanced its ad targeting system with information such as purchase behavior and issue-based leanings. Among its many clients are GOP opposition-research group America Rising and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican running against recent Democratic darling, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis.

The fact that statewide and national election campaigns have enhanced their core political data sets with commercial data such as TV viewing information and demographic data is nothing new. However, this midterm election season we can expect more data-layering by smaller campaigns that have typically had fewer resources. Firms like Targeted Victory, which serves candidates and groups on the right, will facilitate that. The company has integrated information from DataLogix and i360 into the self-serve platform it offers clients.

These new data sets are expected to help the company's political clients refine voters and likely voters they want to reach to drum up donations and gather signups for future communications. Targeted Victory's clients include American Crossroads, the Super PAC affiliated with Karl Rove, and Republican Party organizations such as National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Ms. Davis famously filibustered her way into the hearts of the left after a 13-hour oratory in the Texas Senate Chamber in June. Ms. Davis's overnight popularity has already helped spur an influx of donations to both hers and Mr. Abbott's campaigns, making it a race to watch in the November midterms.

In 2012, Targeted Victory began weaving in additional audience data sets to complement typical voter file information in order to reach niche groups of people online. The company partnered with digital audience firm Lotame, and online Hispanic data outfit Pulpo Media, and still works with both.

The Romney camp spent around $26 million with Targeted Victory in the 2012 campaign, according to Center for Responsive Politics.

Datalogix helps companies like Facebook connect digital ads and interactions to real-world purchases. The company has thousands of consumer segments showing packaged-goods purchases, auto ownership, charitable contributions, and financial information. Using the additional data will allow campaigns to refine ad targets. For instance, clients could aim messages only at single females in West Texas who sway Republican.

The i360 data contains segments categorized according to issue-based beliefs or leanings. Such information might be employed to reach pro-second amendment homeowners, or to hit targets based on marital status or appreciation for certain sports.

For now the digital ad consultancy will make only a small number of new segments available to the clients that use its self-serve platform, which typically appeals to those with smaller budgets and staffs.

"We're taking that technology all the way down the food chain to make it available to thousands of campaigns," said Michael Beach, Targeted Victory co-founder.

Aiming ads at nuanced audiences is popular among all types of advertisers, but the promise of such refined targets is only fulfilled if messages in those ads reflect that bullseye approach. Most political campaigns in the local arena, unlike a handful of recent presidential efforts, don't have a large variety of ads featuring targeting messages that speak directly to the niche audiences they reach through these modern data-driven ad buying methods. In part, that's simply a result of a lack of resources.

"No one's shown up with 30 different ad creatives," said Mr. Beach. "We have to get out ahead of the data side first. We think content's going to catch up."

Most Popular