The challenges that political marketers face have been upped considerably since the start of the pandemic.
Sure, it was easier to hit audiences with OTT spots as the public health response to COVID kept Americans housebound. But as more and more voters cast their ballots early — either by mail or through in-person voting — or registered to vote during widening windows, culling or expanding audiences as Election Day neared became more of a strategic imperative.
Keeping audiences up-to-date with accurate data from secretaries of state is sometimes easier said than done. In fact, states like Alabama to Hawaii are not providing that up-to-date data while others like Louisiana make it cost prohibitive to purchase it on a daily basis.
L2, Xandr and Semcasting recently teamed up to provide campaigns and groups with access to what they’re calling “Daily Voter Segments,” which includes new registrants as well as those who have voted or requested an absentee ballot, up until Election Day.
Matthew Hedberg, general manager of politics for Semcasting, said the service is really a cost-savings play whose equation works like this: for less than a dollar CPM, campaigns and groups can save a $50 CPM by not advertising to voters who have already cast their ballot. (They can also start investing in reaching new registrants or absentee voters.)
“You have two months of GOTV now instead of two weeks. You need to be able to adapt to those changes,” Hedberg told C&E.
Xandr is handling the billing with the CPM cost added to a data segment for clients: “This is another tool in the arsenal to target media buys,” said Erik Brydges, who heads the political vertical for Xandr. “It’s all about servicing the needs of this nuanced vertical for what the folks really require. We’ve done an awful lot of work to ensure that it can be done.”
While Xandr and Semcasting are handling the ad delivery and audience designing, the first-party data is coming through L2, which in some cases requires actual legwork to get it into the platform.
Paul Westcott, an EVP at the data company, noted that L2 has tripled the size of its development team, which now counts 10 people. And that’s not including the part-time staff they have on the ground in states like California who go to county offices and collect voter data.
“It’s all different depending on the state,” said Westcott of the data collection. “In some cases it’s automated where we’ll get it via an FTP file transfer. In some cases, they’ll mail it via a CD-ROM.”
The partners say they want this to be a 50-state solution for their clients. But that’s running into the hard reality of the different capabilities of each state’s elections officials. To wit, Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire and South Dakota don’t provide the data necessary to make this offering work in those states.
“It’s like they don’t have the budget or infrastructure to do this,” said Westcott.