Like it or not, the future of our country lies in the hands of Millennials. Why? Because there are currently 85 million Millennials living, breathing, working, and potentially voting in the United States – the single largest generation in U.S. history. Millennials are the first group to outsize Baby Boomers, and they could not be more different than their predecessors.
Millennials were born as computers entered the middle-class home. They grew up with the Internet at their fingertips. These are web-savvy and mobile-first consumers who own and switch between up to four digital devices every day. And because of this, the rules of engagement are changing. If 2008 was the “Facebook Election,” then 2016 will go down in history as the “Cross-Device Election.”
Millennials’ lives are extremely fragmented across their screens. Campaign staffers are often left scratching their heads over who these voters are and how to target them with their candidates’ ads, or solicit donations.
How are we supposed to reach anyone, let alone Millennials with a hand-crafted message about the candidates and ballot measures if we don’t know who they are? Is the answer to spray out one-size-fits-all ads about propositions and issues, and pray they reach the tablets, phones, and computers of the right voters?
Because you’re logged-in when using them, Facebook, Google, Twitter and some other sites and platforms know exactly who you are and what you’re interested in. But even if a campaign’s digital team runs a solid social media program, how are they to reach the multitude of elusive sites their audience hasn’t logged into? How do you reach the Reddit lurkers and subway gamers?
To achieve real reach at scale, some alternative form of identity is necessary, outside of the walled gardens of social media. Some way to accurately map those 85 million Millennials against their four or more devices without relying on logins or personally identifiable information.
The industry knows this as probabilistic identity, where machine-learning algorithms stitch together data points to make predictions on device ownership. For example, a tablet and a connected TV that are seen together on the same Wi-Fi network every evening, or a phone and laptop that travel together to an office building every Monday through Friday during business hours. Just because a voter hasn’t explicitly told the campaign “these are my devices,” doesn’t mean the campaign can’t make predictions on device ownership.
For modern campaigners, it makes sense to find a data supplier who can help you connect these consumer dots to better reach them. This can be a data management platform with an identity capability, a cross-device advertising platform built on digital identity, or a standalone digital identity data-as-a-service provider. The advertising and marketing technology landscape has several options for digital identity providers.
Once you have that cross-device identity, you can implement modern targeting techniques that are sure to move the needle on your campaign, such as:
Identifying political influencers. Figure out who’s attending rallies based on location signals, or better yet, import your own first- or third-party data and reach the best influencers across all of their digital devices.
Voter-centric cross-device storytelling. With that sacred identity you can cater a message about your candidate that will knock their slippers off over morning coffee, hit them again while they’re surfing the web on mobile at lunch, and finish strong a few days later on a tablet – all because you know who the audience is across all of their devices.
Hyper-local targeting. Target voters as granularly in the digital world as you can in the physical world with geo-fencing, regional, DMA, and even ZIP+4 targeting.
Universal frequency capping. Protect voter sentiment by not intruding too much on their devices. No one likes an overstayed guest, in real life or virtual.
Older generations may not want to admit it, but Millennials are smart and don’t tolerate inauthentic attempts to relate to them or get them to act in prescribed ways. They demand content that’s perfectly suited to their individual personalities, and the onus is on campaigners to find a way to deliver that message wherever and whenever they are. Digital identity and a robust cross-device strategy are the keys to making that happen.
Brian Ferrario is VP Marketing at Drawbridge. Prior to joining Drawbridge, Brian was VP Marketing at Sociomantic, a leading programmatic advertising technology company, where he was part of the executive team that helped the company be acquired by dunnhumby, a Tesco company, the world's second largest retailer. He previously joined digital advertising technology company Rocket Fuel in 2008 as employee No. 13.