Every four years in the United States, cutting edge marketing techniques and technology find their way into the presidential races as campaigns grapple with how to energize, excite, and activate voters to volunteer time, give money, and ultimately vote for their candidates.  One of the key lessons from the 2012 presidential race is that President Obama’s team relied heavily on big data, analytics, and ultimately insights based on those analytics to drive a successful campaign.  According to a Time magazine article on the analytics used by Obama’s team, the campaign was able to successfully leverage big data insights to hit an unprecedented $1B in fundraising, engaged in a hyper efficient model for media buying, and were able to model the effects of their messaging and get out the vote efforts in real time.

But to get there, the Obama team had to corral a common problem, which is too many databases and how to reconcile the data between them.  But they did it!  And then, once they had the legacy data under control they then gathered every additional bit of data that came in, as it came in.  Then they took this data and used it to segment voters.  This micro targeting allowed them to validate their messaging by constantly testing those messages against very, very specific groups of voters.  This led to two interesting insights.  First, here was a 10X performance gap between top performing and bottom performing messages.  So they doubles down on the effective messaging and then stopped wasting their time and money on the less effective messaging.  Second, they could get a 14% more efficient TV buy as a result.  This matters in our hyper competitive world and helped them maximize their media investment.

As a result of these continued insights, they constantly and ceaselessly adjusted their messages, targeting (online, in media, and in-person), and then tested and adjusted again.  Day after day.  According to Jim Messina, the campaign manager, they have created “a totally different, metric-driven kind of campaign in which politics was
the goal but political instincts might not be the means”.  

I think there is a very real lesson here for marketers in the power of insights driven by analytics and big data.  As always, I’m interested in your thoughts.