Obama Campaign Media, Analytics Gurus Partner Up

A relationship fostered over the course of the president’s re-election campaign morphed Thursday into a partnership to capitalize on the two Democratic consulting firms' data and media capabilities. GMMB, a top Democratic advertising firm, and Civis Analytics, a big data firm launched by a group of former Obama campaign staffers, announced a new effort that will offer campaigns, non-profits and brands similar voter targeting and media buying that helped President Barack Obama in 2012. “We’re excited about it, and that’s where we think the value is,” Daniel Jester, a senior vice president at GMMB, told CQ Roll Call about offering clients the combined expertise of both firms. “We work with them because they are the smartest people in the analytics business, and we think we’re pretty good at what we do,” Jester said. “So bringing the two together just seemed like a no-brainer.” GMMB is one of the largest Democratic ad firms, with a client list that includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, plus all three campaign committees for the House, Senate and gubernatorial races. GMMB's services include ad production, media buying and candidate training. Civis Analytics was born out of the “analytics cave” at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. Dan Wagner, Obama’s chief analytics officer, serves as CEO, and the firm is financially backed by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google. Members of both firms, along with other Obama staffers, increased the 2012 campaign’s media-buying efficiency by developing a tool called the Optimizer. It enhanced the targeting possibilities by combining persuadability scores of voters with Rentrak’s set-top box data. In other words, the campaign was able to ensure the voters it had a chance of winning over were seeing its ads while limiting the amount of money wasted. That includes combining TV advertisements with online targeting. The new partnership is already working for "progressive causes, companies, campaigns and Democratic Party committees," according to a joint statement released Thursday.