Donald Trump’s election is perhaps the single best advertisement for digital advertising in the history of that industry. One of the major criticisms of Trump’s supporters during the election is that many were white and less educated than supporters of Hillary Clinton — traits not often associated with Madison Avenue and the data-driven decision-making that earned Trump’s place as the next president of the United States.
Recently in my opening remarks at The 614 Group’s Brand Safety Summit, I pointed out that while Donald Trump claims the media hates him, they actually love him, too. Every time the Trump name is uttered, viewers tune in, ratings go up, and ads are sold. Even I like writing about the Donald; it gets my work more attention.
But the point I made at The Brand Safety Summit was and still is this: Everyone has some ownership over the outcome of the election, regardless of how they voted. The media example is just a slice of that theory.
With the help of the team at Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics company behind Trump’s win, the now president-elect leveraged digital advertising for everything it was ever designed to be. I was invited to the Cambridge Analytica office post-election, and their team graciously pulled back the covers on the strategy they used to help Trump turn his audience into voters who won him the election.
Trump notably called data “overrated” in politics but quickly changed his mind as the election progressed, “spending millions of dollars on data and digital services in an effort to land donations and win over voters,” as the Associated Press noted. This campaign used digital advertising to its fullest, but what does that mean?
Cambridge worked with the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee on research, data science and digital marketing. The firm successfully employed a variety of digital strategies and used them to connect with the 240 million Americans they had a wealth of data on.
Cambridge researchers collected survey data — specifically in battleground states that included hard IDs, live dials and IVRs (Interactive Voice Responses). The signals identified about particular individuals in the raw data were matched against their existing database to create models, and then extrapolated to identify larger groups of people to talk to about the election.
The data team had every voter scored on a few key points, including their likelihood to turn out to vote, which candidate they supported, what specific issues they cared about and what factors motivated them in terms of messaging.
This data was then handed over to their digital team to execute against, driving media plan development. The robust digital strategy utilized direct matching, desktop cookies and hyper-local digital scoring to ensure accuracy in targeting their audience.