Media Voter File

As digital media like connected TV offers better and better data about viewing patterns, it is increasingly easy to target ads at individual voters. In cases where targeting is not possible, it is sometimes possible to determine which voters viewed an individual ad post hoc.

The idea of a media voter file is to integrate this data into a voter file, in the same way that individual canvassing records are integrated today. In just the same way that door knocks and phone calls are tracked in VAN today, it is possible in some cases to track ad views, both on social media and conventional media, at an individual level. Doing so would consequently facilitate more efficient use of ad dollars, so that campaigns could more readily direct ad dollars towards high-priority targets. Moreover, it would allow campaigns to more holistically determine how to best reach a given voter - given the voter’s history of ad viewing and canvassing, what is the best way to reach that voter in the future?

Adam Wise discussed this idea, and surrounding issues, in some detail in his Business of Politics interview. Key moments include:

  • 0:14:16: Ideas around targeting people who are impacted directly by key issues: e.g. if the diesel tax goes up, who owns a deisel vehicle who we can target in media buying?
  • 0:15:00: Types of data that Wise aggregates to better target media buys: credit union data, voter files, consumer files, business registries, care practitioner databases.
  • 0:17:19: Good discussion of media buying strategy - if you buy correctly you can reach a substantially larger part of the population as compared to a baseline.
  • 0:17:47: Finding out if a media buy succeeded quickly. Wise’s ACR panel allows tracking of cable and broadcast TV habits, as well as pixels for tracking app and mobile web behavior. That gives rapid feedback to determine if a media buy reached the right targets.
  • 0:19:39: Media buys need to go beyond the top 5 networks - find the niche markets and reach people where they actually are. Discussion of “money-ball” media targeting to prefer effective targeting over simple or conventional approaches.
  • 0:24:26: Discussion of the media voter file idea. Given some voter X, how do we reach that voter? We know that voter’s media watching habits, how to contact the voter one-on-one, what ads the voter saw last week, … - given all that data, what’s the best way to reach the voter this week?
  • 0:25:24: Discussion of measuring TV media buy effectiveness isn’t well measured. Sometimes we take TV stations at their word as to their reach. Some consultancies don’t have Neilsen, or Comscore licenses. For a given ad buy, we want a way to turn our desired impact (1000 points) into X number of spots across Y time slots.

Tobias Konitzer also discusses this idea in his Great Battlefield interview, at 43:28, although he is more focused on appending social media identifiers to the voter file to enable some of this work.