Digital Giants Restrict Voter Targeting

Posted: November 27, 2019

Google, Twitter, Facebook change the rules. How can political Campaigns adapt?

It was a long time coming, but the 2016 election, Russian meddling and Cambridge Analytica propelled the digital giants to take action. This left political campaigns scrambling for good reason. Until recently television was the sure fire way to move polling numbers, but now digital has encroached on this hallowed ground.

Corporate Policy Changes the Rules

Twitter was the first to respond to public pressure. They banned political advertising outright. Google is banning highly-targeted political ads on its platforms. Now campaigns can only target based on users age, gender, and location at the zip code level. No party affiliation. No issues bias. Google will no longer accept third party data from such vendors as i360 and Aristotle. Campaigns can only use Google’s internal data without such metrics as party affiliation. Talk about entering a fight with one hand tied behind your back.

Even defiant Facebook is buckling and reviewing policy options. Facebook will be announcing changes to their political advertising soon, which according to insiders will restrict microtargeting, one of the platform’s premiere benefits. They already announced the possibility of increasing the minimum number of people who can be targeted by specific ads from 100 to a few thousand. Facebook executive Carolyn Everson told Axios that Facebook hasn’t ruled out limiting how precisely voters can be targeted using detailed demographic and personal data.

These are dangerous times for campaigns that got used to microtargeting voters using political data. Many campaigns relied solely on these platforms and their specific data and targeting metrics, and for them these policy changes are devastating. Suddenly the choices are reminiscent of the early days of digital marketing. What do to going forward?

An Oasis in the Digital Desert

Some digital firms have been expecting these types of restrictions, if not coming from the digital giants themselves, than from government regulation. One such group is the SAIPR team. The policy restrictions are all focused targeting individual voters with cookies on their various devices, whether tablets, laptops or mobile devices. The way to still target individual voters in this new environment is by targeting IP addresses, namely, voters home or business.

Our forward thinking team has a patent pending on the technology to append IP addresses to voter files. Since this technology doesn’t rely on political cookies, campaigns can accurately target voters and maximize a return on their investment despite the new realities imposed by technology firms.

We marry this technology with ad inventory from over a dozen ad exchanges, well beyond the Google and Facebook universes, giving us access to over 1,000,000 websites and apps and can serve ads across a variety of other devices. This way campaigns can reach more unique voters than any one service like Google or Facebook.

Targeting Voters Where They Are

IP appending allows the entire internet to target voters passively, normally a benefit associated with Facebook. Voters browsing for fantasy football fans or cat videos will see campaign ads if they are targeted. When we say the entire internet, it includes apps voters use through Facebook. Google search requires proactively searching for campaign information, which misses most potential voters.  

This technology has been employed for years for state campaigns like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and smaller local campaigns like Dick Thurston, Supervisor of Wappinger Falls, NY. It is a cost effective way to microtarget voters at a time when the sands are shifting in the digital desert.

Still confused? SAIPR is here to help.

Daniel Odescalchi is President of SAIPR, a consulting firm. He has worked throughout the U.S., Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Middle East. He coauthored “The Handbook of Political Marketing.”

Reference links: