This month, one of the world’s largest digital advertising firms boasted that it had access to the data, personal beliefs, and political opinions of 166 million Americans. Advertising agency Xaxis is preparing to use that information to target U.S. voters with “laser-like” accuracy during the 2016 presidential election.
“We’re opening up an entirely new level of sophistication for political marketers,” Xaxis CEO Brian Gleason said in a statement. “Voter data is the lifeblood of political advertising.”
In previous presidential and midterm elections, candidates mostly spent the “crumbs of their advertising budgets” on digital advertising, like pay per click marketing and streaming video ads. But the 2016 election is projected to break records, with more than $1 billion spent on digital political advertising. That’s up from just $158 billion in 2012. Digital advertising offers major advantages for candidates; now, campaigns can put out ads capitalizing on their rival’s latest gaffe in minutes.
Xaxis Politics utilizes voter information from HaystaqDNA, a predictive analytics startup whose former clients include CBS, the NFL, the New York Police Department, and even President Barack Obama himself.
By leveraging offline voter data with online data, Xaxis believes it can provide candidates with the most hyper-targeted political advertising in history. With data on 166 million likely U.S. voters, nearly one-in-two Americans could be impacted. HaystaqDNA even claims to know what voters think about hot-button issues like abortion and gun control, although the firms insist that data is anonymous.
The level of insight marketers have on consumers online might seem like an invasion of privacy, but even door-to-door marketers can pull up vast amounts of personal information on homeowners at the click of a button.
“Now it is easy for online campaigns to target the right voters,” Haystaq CEO Ken Strasma said. “Political marketers have come to expect the accuracy of individual-level targeting models for direct mail, phones and door-to-door canvasing.”
As the 2016 election cycle kicks into high gear, voters can expect those wall-to-wall political advertisements to be more visible than ever.