Long-Tail Wags The Dog-Catcher: Targeted Victory Goes Self-Serve

Political DSP Targeted Victory is rolling out a new, self-serve version of its programmatic TV audience-buying system that will enable candidates of any size to leverage the kind of computer power previously available only at the presidential campaign level.

“You could be running for dog-catcher and use it,” explains Michael Beach, one a co-founder of the Alexandria, VA-based political media specialist, which has taken years of learning from the state-of-the-programmatic-political-art and democratizing it for the long tail of politics. But not for Democrats.

Targeted Victory works exclusively for campaigns that are “right-of-center,” so a conservative dog catcher would quality, but not a progressive.

Beach tells Real-Time Daily that authenticating party affiliation has added some complexity in terms of marketing the service, but he eventually sees applications for categories outside of pure-play politics. They include conventional consumer marketing where campaign intelligence can enable a brand to segment its audiences along criteria akin to party affiliations and voting districts (ie. brand preferences and trading areas).



The power of the system, he says, is that it gleans the insights learned from the best algorithmic processing and data application over the past several presidential campaigns and distills it down into the best marketing and computer science possible. (Targeted Victory handled Mitt Romney’s programmatic buys.)

To make the system more accessible to smaller candidates and campaigns that may not have the same level of sophistication as the big national races, Beach said the new system enables campaign media operatives to iterate with the system's optimizations to create outputs that might be more intuitive and practical for their teams.

“The first television system we rolled out in 2013, basically created one optimization: What office are you running for, put in your budget and it created the most optimal media plan. In the new version, people can tweak it and discover the best possible outcomes,” he said, noting that some users just aren’t comfortable with machine optimization, no matter what the science is behind it.

“If I were a buyer, I would obviously go with the initial optimization,” he said, adding that the system still works well for users that override it. “It’s kind of like the autopilot on an airplane,” he explains. “You can still take manual control of the airplane, and the autopilot will still try to find the best possible route.”

Whatever the size or sophistication of the campaigns using it, Beach predicts machine optimization will have a profound effect on political media spending over the next two years.

“Ten billion dollars will be spent on [political ads on] TV in 2015 and 2016,” he said, adding, “Half of it will be spent on the conservative side. We believe we can make the process 20% more efficient. That’s $1 billion.”

Of course, he noted that his competitors on the Democratic and progressive side of the political spectrum are also leveraging similar programmatic technologies. The absolute advantage ultimately may not come down to targeting and media, but to messaging, positions and the candidates themselves.

Next story loading loading..