Campaigns may be the next industry to see its staffing requirements changed significantly thanks to automation. In 2016 and beyond, large, centralized data teams will become less important than the analytics embedded in the media planning, voter modeling, and field organization tools used at all levels of national campaigns.
As automated analytics pop up on local campaigns as well as national, it will redefine the small “d” democratic process. Moreover, it has the potential to fundamentally shift the way campaigns work.
If you don’t already have a close advisor fluent in the new generation of automated campaign analytics, now is the time to be pairing up. Here are four trends to watch.
SaaS offerings remove staffing barriers.
Around the country, there’s a critical shortage of highly-skilled, big-data analysts and software developers. Enter highly-automated Software-as-a-Service (Saas) offerings, such as NationBuilder, which allow campaigns to rent access to voter contact and planning tools they could never afford or find talent to build.
Faster data cycles will keep up with the news cycle.
A week is seven revolutions of a 24-hour news cycle. Fortunately, campaigns no longer need to wait until Sunday to understand how their message is playing. In fact, lots of data types, such as social media monitoring, organic search and contextual analytics (to monitor content consumption), refresh in near real-time and some can be appended back to voter segments with little effort.
For example, your campaign might be wondering who’s paying attention to a negative news story, and are they more likely to be your candidate’s supporters? It’s now possible to analyze and then target people observed reading about a given topic, in target groups or geographies, within the current news cycle. That’s automation we can believe in.
Counties will feel like they have the analytical firepower of NORAD.
The dashboards which plastered the walls of campaign headquarters are now available on the iPads of local field coordinators. This is important for two reasons. The first is that regional and local cultural differences make tighter models of the underlying data more relevant than national projections.
The second is that local offices will be able to leverage the tools in new and innovative ways. Gone will be the days of the volunteer-run check-in table: Campaigns can potentially use beacons at local events to automatically welcome voters and communicate with local users of campaign apps. And they can do this all while leveraging automated modeling technologies to optimize messaging.
Multivariate field testing is the new focus group.
Automated optimization tools will use video ad viewability and engagement measures for in-field testing of digital and TV spots. This means campaigns can learn in just hours what tens of thousands of voters think about their messaging for just a few hundred dollars. These will, for some applications, replace focus groups and voter labs, which can take days or weeks to execute and be costly. Test learnings will propagate through optimization of paid media (DCO) and site content (like Optimizely) using advanced automation after a human sets up the test.
This column by SVP & Chief Analytics Officer Michael Horn originally appeared in Campaigns and Elections.