Rentrak's Bruce Goerlich: Using Big Data In The Election Process
I sat down with Rentrak CRO Bruce Goerlich to discuss subjects ranging from the company’s purchase of ITVX to measure in-program product placement, international movie measurement in China -- and, arguably the most interesting, the expansion of the use of the company's data capabilities in the political realm by adding Republican campaigners.
Check out the five videos on these subjects here.
The strategic use of data in the election process has been around for years -- but now, with big data sets allowing for greater granularity, companies like Rentrak provide insightful instruments for political success.
According to reports, the strategic use of Rentrak data matched to certain target voting groups helped get the Democratic message across to voters and reelect President Obama. Just recently, the Republicans signed up with Rentrak as part of their campaign strategy. Goerlich talks about what Rentrak did for Obama For America and what the possibilities are going forward to this next election cycle with both parties using the data.
How did it all begin? Goerlich assured me that Rentrak approached both Republicans and Democrats prior to the election cycle in 2012, but only the Democrats signed on for the data. The rest is history, and a lesson to the losing side that granular big data, used strategically, can make the difference between winning and losing.
I asked him to go through the process.
“From August 2011 to October 2012, we provided
(the Democrats) with custom ratings based upon their voter profiles," Goerlich said. "They sent 25 million voter names and addresses across 44 markets to a third party. We then sent our operator name
and addresses to that third party to match in a privacy-protected way. So we did not know who was who.
"We got back an anonymous ID with a tag attached to it. The tag would say, this is Obama Segment A, this is Obama Segment B -- there were about eight to 10 segments, depending upon the market, and we didn’t know what those segments meant. But what we were able to do was for that year, produce for them on a quarter-hour basis in each of the 44 markets, a rating for all the stations and networks in those markets. They then used that data to inform their” process of buying media.
He continued, "Typically, they bought about 60 networks deep in a market. And when they did buy a station they were much broader in how they bought a station in a typical
political buy. We looked at the Romney campaign. The Romney campaign bought on average about 18 networks and was much more narrow in where they bought during the day.
"So we were able to allow [the] Obama [campaign] to be much richer in their selection of networks and time periods also, because we were measuring 230 odd networks compared to the other guys, who are much smaller. So the network buy was much richer and broader for Obama. And, what they have said in public is buying this way allowed them to deliver 20% more of their target. So if they had spent the same amount of money but had bought on women 18-49 for example, they would have gotten 20% less on those segments. So it was a better way to buy, a richer way to buy, a more efficient way to buy and, of course, because they won, a more effective way to buy.”
I look forward to seeing how each side uses Rentrak for this next election cycle. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to vote!