While we barely have a presidential election that felt like it was never going to end in the rear view mirror, politics are always cooking in the background. Based on the past success of some efforts to more accurately target issue oriented voters and their web habits a new ad network, Resonate Networks, is getting some attention. The New York Times tells the story of an a mix of party strategists from both sides of the fence have joined forces to start this company. Politics certainly makes strange bedfellows as the saying goes but apparently so does a business venture that can generate some cash.
The lineup of founders and investors shows that money spends the same on whatever side of an issue you may be on.
The company, Resonate Networks, was co-founded by Sara Taylor, the White House political director under Mr. Bush. Its investors include Harold Ickes, the former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who runs the database that Democratic strategists rely on; Steve McMahon, the prominent Howard Dean consultant; and Alex Gage, who advised Karl Rove on Mr. Bush’s re-election in 2004.
It would certainly be tough to make claims of partisanship with that lineup.
The idea for the network is to match publishers and advertisers to the audience that best ID’s a stance on a political issue rather than a consumer purchase. While President Obama’s campaign is often cited for its technological savvy the example cited for success in this area of online advertising and marketing points to a strategy carried out by George W. Bush in his 2004 campaign. It is believed that Bush strategists successfully targeted a group of traditionally Democratic voters in New Mexico that, although they were Democrats, were very interested in the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind public school legislation. It is believed that the targeting of this group helped Bush win the state by turning voters based on an issue rather than a platform. This was a part of an overall strategy to help make this happen but the online world keeps growing so the influence will as well.
Resonate will use a combination of quarterly surveys of roughly 4,000 people regarding a variety of issues then tack on their political data to further define their habits based on political views not just spending. This allows advertisers to find pockets of voters that can be hit with a very direct message without raising the ire of the opposition because it is more likely they won’t be visiting the site anyway.
This concept is getting the attention of the corporate affairs types of the world as well.
Resonate executives said that they thought the company would be attractive for corporate social responsibility campaigns, or for companies’ advertisements that reflected an issue, like a fast-food company that wanted to advertise a healthy snack to moms worried about obesity
Resonate, which has been operating since the fall, does not have any corporate clients yet; its formation is scheduled to be announced Thursday. Executives said it had sales of about $1 million in its first months, to public affairs groups.
While marketing online or off has always been about targeting certain groups most likely to buy a particular product this would make sense if one can truly identify the likely voting habit of a web visitor. If this catches on as the mid term election season approaches you can be sure that a cottage industry of tracking where advertising is happening and why so these efforts can be fought is likely to pop up as well. Who said that no new real jobs were being created by politics?