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    Bernie Sanders leads Caitlyn Jenner almost 4 to 1 in new poll!

Bernie Sanders leads Caitlyn Jenner almost 4 to 1 in new poll!

(Or, “Why presidential polls are entertainment, not news.”)

Last week, using Google’s new polling software, we asked 400 people “eligible to vote in 2016” how they would vote, if the choice came down to either Democrat Bernie Sanders or Republican Caitlyn Jenner. It was just for fun, but since Echelon Insights released their numbers today of the Trump-Kanye match-up, we decided to share our silly season numbers, as well. We’ve all got to get this out of our system before Labor Day. So…more than half of those Americans we polled (53%) said, if given the Berne-Kaitlin choice, they were decidedly Undecided.

Against a formidable candidate like Caitlyn Jenner, Senator Sanders was unable to crack 40% support. And what does it say about Americans that less than 10% of them were willing to vote for someone with the courage to have gender reassignment surgery?

Well, it actually says nothing about Americans, per se, but a whole lot about what passes for news these days. The Fox News decision to let polls drive the debate bus was too much for the Marist Poll, which announced they would suspend polling prior to the Fox debates lest they play an unwitting role in the farce. (See Lee Miringoff’s devastatingly funny analysis here http://maristpoll.marist.edu/528-top-10-reasons-why-polls-should-not-be-used-to-determine-eligibility-for-debates/ )

But enough about the well-respected Marist Poll and back to the game changer that the stunning Sanders-Jenner matchup promises to be. After all, it has all the ingredients. We’ve got the surging campaign of Senator Sanders who if he wins can, at long last, end this crazy Vietnam War. And we’ve got Caitlyn Jenner, who is married to a Kardashian.

So, why isn’t this survey (and dozens like it) important?

Aside from the fact that not even in some alternate […]

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    Frankenmetrics: Neuromarketing and the Really Cool End of Privacy

Frankenmetrics: Neuromarketing and the Really Cool End of Privacy

For all their intrusiveness, companies like Facebook really don’t want to hurt us. They want to sell us stuff. And for that reason, we tolerate the cognitive dissonance created by our love for technology and our desire for privacy.

So, it is with the mixed emotions all of us share about such matters that I say, “Facebook studied our neurological patterns and they found out some really cool stuff.”

Chief among the findings was for all our handwringing about dwindling screen sizes, it turns out people are more focused on their mobile screens than their television screens, not less. Equally important, it seems we trust that small screen more, as well. What that means for, say, politicians or the producers of YouTube cat videos is that the advent of mobile has not resulted in a qualitative loss in terms of the ability to communicate with video.

Facebook commissioned the neurological study (basically studying how your body responds to different stimuli) to answer the burning question on every marketer’s mind, namely, “If you keep making screens smaller, will we still be able to sell stuff?” Now, granted, when the government does these kinds of studies, it’s a lot creepier.   Corporations get that, which explains why companies like Facebook and Google hate to see their names linked to government data collection.

This study was done by SalesBrain, itself the brainchild of Christophe Morin and Patrick Renvoisé. Renvoisé’s bio humbly states that he “discovered the buy button inside the brain” which, just for the record, I’m not sure I buy. In any case, the study itself is fascinating in the way watching one’s own autopsy would be fascinating. The “them “of the study is us. And yes, we do act and […]

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    Programmatic Buying: Is Compiled “Big Data” Becoming Obsolete?

Programmatic Buying: Is Compiled “Big Data” Becoming Obsolete?

Huge resources have been poured into “modeling” voters based on compiled consumer data. The problem is that none of those predictive models comes close to beating the latest generation of programmatic ad buying algorithms.

These algorithms are used by Facebook, Google and other online behemoths to sell ad inventory in real time, which is another way of saying it’s how the rest of us buy ad inventory in real time. It is a moment-by-moment auction to see which ads will appear in an individual Facebook user’s news feed, for example. As individuals, we don’t all see the same ads, because advertisers value individual prospective customers (or voters) differently and are willing to bid up the price to place an ad in one news feed, while ignoring another.

That’s the “real” Big Data, and for most online ad buyers, it’s making that endlessly re-modelled compiled data out there seem almost quaint by comparison. When we then import voter file data into the Facebook equation, we suddenly find ourselves with a product far exceeding Big Data’s most grandiose promises. We don’t just talk to users who “look just like our targets”, we talk to our targets.

We can schedule ads to reach only likely voters in a Democratic Primary who vote by mail, for example, while targeting Independents who vote on Election Day, swing 45+ Republican married women, etc. with a different series of ads. Even the phrase “likely voter” is now more science than guesswork. Sophisticated propensity index models use a variety of data points in addition to simple vote history in order to rank voters against increasingly accurate scales.

Here’s the part where it gets dangerous. Agencies that understand this dynamic bid up the price to make sure […]

Why Facebook’s Future Doesn’t Matter

Facebook’s Q2 report makes one thing abundantly clear. No one can possibly predict what this company will look like, or what the Facebook user experience will feel like a year, let along 5 or 10 years from now.   Sure, advertising is up 31% in 2015, but the user experience continues to evolve in ways none of us could have predicted. Digging into the Q2 numbers leads one to the inescapable conclusion that, just as you cannot step into the same river twice, you cannot experience the same Facebook twice. Yeah, it’s changing that fast. So fast, in fact, that the challenge is not to predict what it will become, but to simply stay current with where it is at the moment.

Let’s take a look at the very recent past. Video finally went mainstream on Facebook in the first quarter, (and how that has changed advertising for the top 100 brands is an early indicator of how political advertising is going to change in 2016). Digging into those numbers shows that some companies adapted far more quickly and successfully than others. It also shows that Facebook got it mostly right.
Video is now a major content type, and Facebook users seem to have taken the self-starting videos in stride. The new format has complicated metrics on the back end (which Facebook addressed this morning by shaking up their video ad options). “Likes” are down and “shares” are up, which one would expect as the type of content shifts. People share pictures and videos more often, and that also holds true with ads. Major companies also learned lessons that will help everyone. Simply Measured conducted a study of the Interbrand 100 and recently shared the results. For […]

Zombies Knock ’em Dead at the Pollies

Ads produced for “Zombies for Responsible Government” swept through the Pollie Awards at San Diego’s Manchester Hyatt Regency Hotel Friday night. The independent expenditure campaign targeted Nathan Fletcher in the San Diego Mayor’s race. In that race, the Zombie spots garnered tens of thousands of Youtube views and were featured on every major news channel in the San Diego market.

The Zombies, featured in a pre-roll video to San Diego voters, could also be seen in candid interviews filmed on location. Before the night was over, the Zombies racked up five Gold Awards, one Silver and two  Bronze trophies, in what proved to be a great night for our sister company Gateway Media.

Special shout out to our Zombie staffers, Matt Johnson, Bereket Kalile and Kameron Snow who backed up lead Zombie Jason Kuykendall, all under the superb director of Randy Bond.

So if you’d like to have the creative media production team that the 1,200-member American Association of Political Consultants calls solid gold, let’s talk.

The Music of the Night

Stay with me.  I’m going somewhere with this.

I cannot exactly remember the first moment I looked over the audio engineer’s shoulder and saw a human voice digitally displayed in all its mathematical splendor, I just know that my world changed that day.  Pro Tools was launched in 1991, the prodigy child of Evan Brooks’ 1984 Sound Designer.  Sure, it was four tracks and $6,000, but it was a ticket to a new world.

As a young boy, I watched the piano tuner come to our house with his tuning fork, and well-trained ear.  That tuning fork resonated at 440 Hz, basically the A above Middle C on your piano.  Not important, right?  Right, unless you’re a piano tuner…or any other human being.

Most of us have a vague idea that music is related to math.  It has scales, meter, rhythm, etc., but the fact that sound is a mechanical wave, basically an oscillation of pressure, means not only is music all about math, but it turns out math is all about music.

When that mechanical wave gets pushed through a medium like air or water, we hear the resulting sound.  Now, if that wave is going through something smooth, like a train whistle, the sound is constant and shrill. But add a few holes that you can open and close, and you’ve got a flute or a clarinet, or a valved trumpet, and suddenly it gets interesting.  Then, that wave passes through the incredible array of human vocal cords, producing sounds of enormous complexity, that can beckon, agitate, soothe or awe.

Silently hold down the G key above Middle C on a piano, and then sharply strike the C key an octave below Middle C. What you clearly […]

Sad Farewell to a Mentor and Friend

(McLean, VA, December 5, 2013). The American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) joins in mourning the passing of industry great, Joe Napolitan, who died Monday in Agawam, MA at the age of 84.   Regarded as the father of modern political consulting, his storied career spanned over 5 decades.   Fellow Springfield Political Consultant Tony Cignoli said of Joe, “Napolitan set the standard, and the idea was that it had a code of ethics. If you broke that code of ethics, no other consultant who belonged to the group would then work with you. And it worked really well.”    This ideal was embodied in the founding of AAPC in 1969 and the establishment of AAPC’s Professional Code of Ethics, to which all members subscribe.

Former AAPC Board President Wayne Johnson said of Joe’s passing, “We’ve lost a giant.  No single individual did more to create our profession, and to foster the idea that for a free society to flourish, we must love the principles we share more than the partisan issues that divide us in the moment.  He was mentor, colleague and friend, not only to me, but to so many others. We’ll miss him deeply.”   Ray Strother, who also served as AAPC Board President added, “Joe Napolitan was the rock on which we built modern political consulting. He founded both the International Association (IAPC) and the American Association of Political Consultants out of love and respect for his profession. He reached out to help upstarts like me and he quietly gave advice to scores of young consultants. Joe was truly the diamond standard of wise men in the business and I (we) will miss him desperately. He was the flickering lighthouse that gave us direction.”

Obituary from […]

Coming This Friday: TV That Watches You

How Xbox One Beat Cable to the Punch and Will Change Political Advertising Forever.
The new generation of Kinect technology in Xbox One can distinguish up to six voices in a room, respond to voice commands, read skeletal movement, muscle force, whether people are looking at or away from the TV and even their heart rates, Mehdi said. The latter happens as the camera detects slight changes in skin tone related to dilation of a blood vessel in the eyeball that responds to heart rate, Mr. Mehdi said.

                                                                                                                Advertising Age

                                                                                                                10/5/2013                           
Seven years ago, I was invited to address the executives of one of the nation’s largest cable companies.  I challenged them to abandon their focus on competing with broadcast, and to exploit their natural advantage – set-box targeting.  At the time, they were drilling yet another dry hole in the frozen tundra of cluster group marketing, the erroneous notion that people who live near one another think alike.  Oh sure, there may be more Republicans than Democrats, or more liberals than conservatives in a given geographic pocket, but that’s descriptive, not prescriptive information.  Targeting based on such assumptions is highly dangerous in a political campaign, where voter behavior is as likely to be influenced by a negative perception as a positive one.   Show the wrong ad to the wrong people and it’s not just a waste.  You actually lose votes.  Elections are a zero sum game.  Those you alienate matter, because, in politics, 49% market share is called losing.

Let me put it another way.  Which mailing would have the greater impact, sending a National Right to Life endorsement of a candidate to a list of pro-life […]

Campaign Tech Kerouac

It’s taken a day to decide if the venue for Campaign Tech West was tawdry, ineffable or inspired.  I’m leaning to ineffable.  Across the street from the Naked Lunch restaurant, near the triangle of Broadway, Columbus and Grant.  Nearby, what the Chinese call “Ahdalah Hong” the short walkway that formerly bore the name “Adler Place”.  In recent years, it has been dubbed “Kerouac Alley”, in honor of the beat denizen who frequented the City Lights Bookstore on the corner.

One wonders what Kerouac would have thought of the gathering of political techies on the street where he composed his “spontaneous prose.”  He thought editing robbed prose of being in the moment, and thus somehow dishonest.  Had he been around to witness the billions of “moments” enshrined in tweets and posts today, perhaps, he would have been less opposed to such dishonesty.

Kerouac’s spontaneity was arresting in his time, and not always appreciated (“That’s not writing, that’s typing,” said Capote).  Yet, Kerouac thought before he wrote, which immediately distinguishes him from our own often too-connected world.   I thought about his roman à clef style and tried to imagine Kerouac blogging.  I suppressed the impulse to raise that question among Tuesday’s gifted tech panelists, or when visiting Google and Facebook’s respective HQ’s on Monday.

It would have been hard to watch Kerouac die, 144 characters at a time. From Rome to Zen and back to Rome again.  From leftie beat poet to cantankerous conspiracy theorist, one suspects the journey would have been difficult to watch, if only in one’s newsfeed.   Spurning the “communists” who stole the beat’s movement, Kerouac would die surrounded by a stack of old National Review magazines.  Once visited by some young neo-Nazis, he ran them […]

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    Ending the Turf War: Why Campaigns Need to Embrace Cross-Channel Integration.

Ending the Turf War: Why Campaigns Need to Embrace Cross-Channel Integration.

When the Obama campaign allocated tens of millions of dollars to online recruitment and advocacy, it took a very big risk.  That risk was not in committing such a large share of the campaign’s resources online, but rather in putting the online operation in a bubble, insulated from the traditional political strategists.  Obama won, so it would be easy to conclude that the bifurcated campaign worked, but the decision to create semi-independent silos of information and communication was, perhaps, the most dangerous decision of the campaign.
Why they chose to do it was obvious.  The 20-somethings in the digital shop would have been run over by the Old Guard strategists who talk about innovation and then spend the money on what they have used effectively in the past, the default spending categories of direct mail, radio and television. Obama may have won while breaking the old mold, but that doesn’t mean the “silo” approach to the turf wars over campaign spending should be a template for the future.  It shouldn’t.
The solution for political consultants, just starting out and at the most senior level, is to not only understand cross-channel integration, but to embrace it.  In retail marketing, that phrase refers to the concept that, no matter where a customer comes in contact with a brand, whether on a billboard, on television, in a magazine, an online store or a retail establishment, that customer must be spoken to with one “voice.”  There must be a continuity of message and experience.  It’s no less true for a campaign.  While we, of course, target different voter segments, there still needs to be an integrated approach to messaging, as well as messengers because every voter is getting information about […]