April 30, 2012
By Kate Kaye
The battle for the Hispanic vote in 2012 will be fought with community events, TV spots, door knocking, phone calls - and highly targeted online ads. Just two weeks after President Barack Obama's reelection campaign launched its Latinos for Obama effort, Mitt Romney's online ad firm is partnering exclusively with an Hispanic data firm in the hopes of reaching the coveted voting bloc with messages that speak directly to them.
Targeted Victory, the company handling online ad buys for the likely GOP presidential nominee, has partnered with Pulpo Media, a four-year-old Hispanic online ad targeting outfit. Pulpo has agreed to work with Targeted Victory - which also handled online ads for possible VP nominee Marco Rubio's Senate campaign - exclusively, meaning no other political ad firm can work with Pulpo this election cycle.
The Republican digital consulting company itself has spent the last four years building up its own data, teasing out online voter segments for targeted online ad campaigns.
"Targeted Victory has unique insights through their data strategy to understand voter information or potential areas to influence them for an election," said Justin Kuykendall, CEO and founder of Pulpo. "If we combine that data with [ours on online Hispanics] we can really hyper segment...in key states."
Florida will be one of those states that's important for both sides when it comes to reaching Hispanics. The combined data from the new partners will help them aim targeted online ad messages to people they could miss if relying on buying ads directly from Spanish language sites alone. Pulpo's data can find voters online based on voting precinct, Zip code, age, gender, and language preference - Spanish dominant, English dominant or bilingual.
Pulpo reaches far more Hispanics online than Univision or Telemundo, for instance. According to comScore, Pulpo reached 62.5 million unique visitors in March 2012, second to Batanga Media, which drew 69.8 million. In comparison, Telemundo and Univision each reached under 5 million uniques.
The relationship marks the first time Pulpo has been aligned with political campaigns in the U.S. The company has done work for ballot initiatives in Argentina, Spain, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, according to Kuykendall.
Working closely with the Romney camp, Targeted Victory will identify as many people as it can in each voter group target, then match that group against Pulpo's data to surface segments to aim ads at online. For example, the firms could target ads to Hispanic moms in Miami who vote independent. "We start a campaign with a custom site list based on where we've seen those users before," said Kuykendall, adding "news sites can be very relevant."
The Romney camp has spent around $4.2 million with Targeted Victory since April 2011, according to Federal Election Commission reports analyzed by ClickZ.
Expect the Obama campaign - which has spent millions more than Romney on online advertising thus far - to take a similar data driven approach to reaching Hispanics with targeted messages. In mid-April, the Obama team introduced Latinos for Obama. An email from the Obama campaign about the initiative suggested, Romney is "someone with the most extreme immigration platform of any presidential nominee in recent history."
The Pulpo partnership allows Targeted Victory to use the audience segments it creates to target ads for other political campaign clients in addition to the Romney camp. The companies stressed the information used to target web ads is non-personally identifiable.
Data gleaned through working with Rubio's 2010 Senatorial campaign, for example, could give Targeted Victory a better idea of which voters are likely to donate. They may aim ads at people who gave money to Rubio's 2010 campaign, assuming they'll be more receptive to Romney fundraising requests.
Rubio, a Cuban-American who joined the Senate in 2010, is often named among possible running mates for Romney, in part because he could help capture the important Hispanic vote in the swing state of Florida.
Targeted Victory stores all of its data with Lotame, a company it's worked with for the past few years. Leading into the 2010 race, the companies partnered to develop a platform for targeting video ads for voter persuasion and mobilization. The majority of the ads targeted using the Pulpo data will be video spots in Spanish, English or a combination of the two based on how Pulpo categorizes user language preference.
Another recent partnership with video ad firm Say Media will help Targeted Victory aim video ads at voters who don't watch live TV. A 2011 study from Say Media, Targeted Victory, Democratic digital agency Chong and Koster, and pollsters on the right and left, showed that in Florida, 28 percent of likely voters surveyed said they didn't watch live television.
"Our biggest challenge is... finding people who are not watching TV, and the other one is finding Hispanic voters," said Michael Beach, co-founder of Targeted Victory.