By: Kate Kaye, AdAge.com
Successful political campaigns, Barack Obama's among them, put real-time data to use rapidly and aggressively. Corporate brands could learn a thing or two, whether it's how data can incite speedier decisions, or the ways offline info can benefit online messaging.
“Political campaigns use real-time insights and data to make creative decisions on the fly. Everything is tested and decisions are made almost instantaneously,” said Michael Bassik, CEO of Proof Integrated Communications, a WPP-owned agency serving political and corporate clients.
The Obama campaign famously built the largest data team in political history to integrate data gleaned via social media and the web with offline data, such as shopping information and voter-file data. As early as July of 2011, predictive-modeling and data-mining analysts were in demand for the in-house analytics department in Chicago.
Key to that team's success, wrote Michael Scherer in Time, was this “single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states.” That data fed into many strategies, from helping media buyers find unconventional — and thus, less expensive — TV buys (FX's “Sons of Anarchy” was one), to figuring out which celebrity messages were most likely to get high-value fundraisers to open their wallets.
Obama's team tapped social data for get-out-the-vote efforts, and it sought to build its list of Facebook supporters using clever, if simple, data-driven apps. In one case, the Obama camp suggested Facebook users find out how many others with their same first names had voted. If a curious user followed the link and allowed it to connect to his Facebook account, the Obama campaign then asked the user to contact a list of friends in swing states to deliver get-out-the-vote messages.