The Download: Political ad firm's chief assesses trends of the midterms

By Steven Overly
Monday, November 8, 2010

Now that the political campaign advertisements that have dominated TV, Internet and radio for the past few months have finally fallen silent, Resonate Networks chief executive Bryan Gernert can review their impact.

Last week's midterm elections were the first electoral cycle for Reston-based Resonate, an advertising firm founded by a bipartisan group of politicos to match political, advocacy and commercial advertising campaigns with people who share their perspective.

The company does this through attitudinal targeting, a research method that marries users' online habits with survey information about their personal and political beliefs. The idea is to find where like-minded people convene online, then sell advertising.

Here's a couple of takeaways from an interview with Gernert.

On targeting swing voters:

Our methodology is pretty unique in that we can identify swing voters and how they act differently online. [There was] sweeping change to bring quite a few Democrats into the government two years ago, and yet two years later there is a big sea change the other way. What that's really indicative of are people are less inclined to be in one camp or the other but are really driven by those values. We can obviously still target Republicans or Democrats, but more and more people are making decisions based on the values they hold and not just partisanship.

On the role of online video:

We saw [video] increase pretty much exponentially over the life cycle of campaigns and really take some of the messaging from TV and apply that online. That creates another powerful ability for people to consume the video when they're most interested in looking at it.


-- Twitter filled the government liaison position it announced over the summer with Adam Sharp, a Washington-based executive producer at C-SPAN and former deputy chief of staff to Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.). The news was announced in a tweet, of course, and quickly bounced around the blogosphere.

"In the role, Sharp will lead efforts to assist policymakers, politicians and governmental bodies to get the most out of their use of Twitter. This is not a public policy or advocacy role," a spokesman for the company wrote via e-mail.

-- District-based NGP Software, which provides tools to assist political campaigns in fundraising and compliance, will merge with Boston's Voter Activation Network by year's end. Both companies work with Democrats and their political sympathizers.

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