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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 […]

iTunes Radio vs Pandora: Let the Battle Begin

Tuesday was Apple’s annual October launch event, which includes the introduction of the new iPad Air, retina iPad Mini, OS X Mavericks, updated Macbook Pros and a newly designed cylindrical Mac Pro. Although I was excited to hear about all the new and updated products coming from Apple, I was most interested in discovering how iTunes Radio had performed in its first month on the market.  Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook revealed that 20 million users have played 1 billion songs in iTunes Radio’s debut month.  This is quite an accomplishment, but still pales in comparison to Pandora’s 72 million monthly active users. (Pandora has recently surpassed 200 million overall users.) The question on everyone’s mind is whether iTunes Radio is a threat to Pandora’s market share.

iTunes’ entry into the predictive playlist market pits their 27 million songs under license to the hand-crafted 1 million song library of Pandora, whose “music genome project” involves one or more music technicians rating the song against a matrix of attributes, so that each song has its own genetic code, so to speak.  An individual song may have as many as 4-500 “genes”, which are used to categorize the song and weigh its similarity to other songs.  The results are then fed into a listener’s queue, with each song “liked” by the listener further improving the queue.

iTunes has the advantage of starting with their customers personal song libraries, which in my case would be several thousand.  While Pandora takes the boutique approach of weighing and analyzing each individual song, iTunes Genius appears to be largely driven by algorithms, and one suspects a similar algorithmic approach is at work here.  iTunes Genius (and presumably iTunes Radio) tracks volume and crowd […]

Data Mining and The Princess Bride

Political consultants and the campaigns they work for are poised to spend millions in the coming cycle on data mining. For some, that’s going to be a great decision.  For others – unless they take the time to understand what data mining is and what it isn’t – they just may wake up with a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

Data mining has its roots in the pragmatic-oriented fields of business and computer science. Its main contribution has been the capability of using ever-expanding computing power to process large volumes of data and find important patterns and anomalies. Financial institutions have been able to improve their ability to detect fraud in credit card transactions using these techniques.

The idea is that with enough computing power, data, and variables thrown into a regression, eventually something “interesting” will emerge. This serendipitous approach is why many statisticians dismissed data mining as a forecasting tool early on, warning like those mutual fund notices that “past results are not necessarily an indication of future performance.”

The problem, of course, is that political strategists are far less interested in a history lesson than they are in a crystal ball that will predict the future.  As much as we may wish for data mining to be that crystal ball, that’s simply not what this tool is all about.

Statisticians are concerned with making inferences (generalizations) that can be used for making predictions. Professor David J. Hand, in his 2008 article for the International Journal of Forecasting, writes, “Forecasting is fundamentally an inferential problem. That is, it is not simply a question of summarizing data, but is rather a question of generalizing from the available data to new data — and in particular to new situations […]

Tectonic Shifts in the Digital World

When Millenial Media’s (MM – $6.54) acquisition of privately-held JumpTap is completed, they will become the biggest company no one has ever heard of – just behind Google and just ahead of iTunes.  I’m talking about the business side of the business, which is all about serving ads to mobile devices.  Google remains the undisputed king, but the space Millenial Media occupies is huge, and about to get a lot bigger.
That’s because Millenial Media has been building an ad platform aimed at the world of mobile apps, a patchwork community consisting of literally hundreds of thousands of individual app developers. What makes Millenial so important is that they already have signed deals to serve ads to more than 45,000 of these apps. With the addition of JumpTap, they’ll add a whole new layer of cross-screen technology that will pull  tablets, smartphones, laptops and PCs into the same ad buying matrix.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. 
Companies like Campaign Grid have great tools for cookie-targeting voters online (“cookies” are footprints we leave when we use browsers to visit sites), but despite their penetration through Facebook, LinkedIn and AT&T’s Mobile Network, for example, a huge majority of mobile device users (and that’s most people) are using apps on those devices, not browsers.  Cookie-tracking is great for targeting the web browsers.  For app users?  Not so much.
That explains the mad scramble among aggregators and cookie-trackers to constantly broaden the reach of their targeting.  Very smart move, but no one online ever arrives, the most you can say is that they’re headed in the right direction.  Take a look at a couple of the factoids that Millenial Media notes, in passing: 70% of the most active iPhone states lean […]

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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 […]

By |October 15th, 2013|Campaigns, Elections|

Research Analyst – New Hire, Bereket Kelile

The Wayne Johnson Agency welcomes Bereket Kelile, research analyst, to the team. Bereket will be working with our sister company, Smith Johnson Research. His work will include research design and management, as well as client relations. Bereket is a U.S Air Force veteran with a bachelor of arts in econometrics from California State University Sacramento.

Bereket is featured in the Sacramento Business Journal under the “People On The Move” section. Click here to read the full article.

By |August 26th, 2013|Company News|

New Hire: Christina Paxton

The Wayne Johnson Agency welcomes Christina Paxton to the team. Christina will be working with our public affairs clients as an account executive.

Previously, Ms. Paxton served as Media Coordinator for a top-50-market FOX television affiliate, and has worked extensively in all aspects of television Creative Services and was instrumental in forming focused, strategic media buys in a variety of broadcast markets. She also founded CMP Media, a comprehensive public relations and media buying agency.

Christina holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and Journalism with an Option in Public Relations and a Special Emphasis in Political Science from California State University Fresno.

 

By |July 14th, 2013|Company News|

Two Cheers For Experience

Campaign and Election: Two Cheers for Experience by Wayne Johnson.

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Wayne Johnson Named to “Top Influencers” List

Wayne Johnson Named to “Top Influencers” list of Top 500 Political Influencers.

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By |February 27th, 2013|News|