This was the election of big data and the proof of the still necessary value of long term brand reputation. Both campaigns and particularly the democrats used highly sophisticated data sets at the individual level to target ground game communications and in person contact to achieve two things:
1. Get out the vote
2. Sway the ridiculously small number of swing voters in a small number of states but in a large number of districts within those states
The lesson to marketers therefore is fivefold:
1. That understanding market structures is the key to budget allocation.
2. That segmentation that identifies switchers is the key to effective short term marketing.
3. That long term marketing effect and strategy remains vital to keep the base attached to the brand.
4. That marketing is like war. You attack from the air and on the ground.
5. That the privacy legislation mooted in respect of online advertising is pure hypocrisy as it seems like the use of personal data is just fine for politicians but the use of data stripped of personally identifiable characteristics is maybe not so fine for brands.
In some ways these issues are more important for marketers than politicians. In marketing there are more competing brands, more competitive geographies, more switchers, more intermediaries (like retailers) between the brand and the customer and the need to sustain messaging over much longer periods of time. Carpet bombing is a rarely available option to marketers.
There is an argument that says politicians can learn at least as much from marketers as vice versa.
This morning it must be clear to the Republicans that their brand values need to change and that this needs to happen before the mid-terms and definitely before the 15\16 primaries. There is a flaw in the idea that extreme positions required to win the nomination can be morphed to far more moderate ones to win the general election. The primaries of 2012 were an oil spill that the GOP could never clean up in the time available.
As for social media it was a clear demonstration that it's at least possible to target and adapt on the fly and to out the position of the other side. It was much less clear that it created significant behavioral change.
Opinions, conclusions and other information in this message that do not relate to the official business of the GroupM companies shall be understood as neither given nor endorsed by it. GroupM companies are a member of WPP plc.
Rob Norman is Chief Digital Officer Global of GroupM. Rob’s principle tasks are developing the interaction organization within GroupM, developing positioning and thought leadership and leading the interaction contribution to business development. You can reach Rob at @robnorman or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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