Topics: Expert Advice, GOTV, Strategy, Modeling, Advertising, Martha McSally, Fundraising, Facebook

Expert Advice: Data Modeling and Digital Advertising

Digital Down the Stretch with i360 & The Prosper Group [Part One]

In case you missed it, i360 and The Prosper Group recently joined up to bring you information heading into the final weeks of the 2020 election for: Digital Down the Stretch with i360 & The Prosper Group.

Many of you have been following our Expert Advice series. In this series, we ask top campaign and advocacy professionals to answer the question important to you.

This week, I thought I would share some expert advice from this great conversation on data modeling, digital advertising, and fundraising.

The Panel of Experts:

Thank you to all of you for your time and to i360 for presenting this seminar with Prosper Group.

Read the first part of the discussion transcript on using data modeling with digital.

Here are the questions addressed by our panel:

TRANSCRIPT: Digital Down the Stretch with i360 & The Prosper Group

Listen on YouTube

RC: Alright, I want to thank everyone for joining this webinar today. This is a joint webinar between i360 and The Prosper Group.

We’re glad to have several people on from i360 and The Prosper Group on today to really kind of go through to talk about and have a discussion about the linkages and between using data and digital. Specially like as we look at these final 30 days. But also, like thinking beyond the last 30 days of the election.


RC: So I want to just give a brief introduction and background.

Introduction: Reece Collins of i360

RC: My name is Reece Collins. I work, I work at i360. I’ve been here since 2014. And, for those of you who don’t know about i360 and what we do, we are a data and technology firm we provide... We provide data and different tools for right-of-center organizations and right-of-center campaigns across the country.

So lots of major races. Like senate races, gubernatorial, and several congressional. Races at all the way down to the local level, and we have lots of local. Whether it’s a city council or mayoral race, just all around the country, so some of what we do is we acquire voter data.

We build models with it, and then we build different technology tools to make it usable, whether it’s grassroots apps, or mail, or digital as we’re talking about today. And yeah, so that’s a little bit of background on i360.

Happy to have my good friend, Kurt Luidhardt, from The Prosper Group on today. Kurt and I’ve known each other for about 16 years now. So now, I will let Kurt talk a little bit about himself and about what The Prosper Group does.

Okay, well, while Kurt is trying to figure out how to unmute himself. Actually, I’ll go to Mark Positano, who heads up a lot of our media team over here.

KL: Oh, wait, here I am. I’m sorry. Every time I tried to unmute myself, it said you had muted me. Sixteen years of friendship and I’m still being told to shut up. That’s alright, though. We love working with the folks at i360 and especially with Reese and fellow Hoosiers.

Introduction: Kurt Luidhardt of The Prosper Group

KL: Prosper Group’s been a leading Republican digital firm since 2006 when my wife Kristen and I started the company. Just two of us then, but over 40 of us now - working on campaigns all over the country, internationally, and with some center-right organizations as well.

Fourteen years strong means we’ve seen pretty much everything, and you know, excited to have a few members of our team on the phone, on the webinar today; Anthony and Jeff.

And, contrary to rumors that are being spread via text message right now, there is no beard requirement to be either on this webinar or on the Prosper Group team.

RC: Not yet anyway now. Yeah, I guess that’ll maybe be a new mandate.

KL: I guess it’s our Covid beards.

RC: Alright Mark, well, would you like to give a little background?

MP: Yeah, this is actually the first time I’ve ever had a beard, so I guess it’s time for this webinar.

Introduction: Mark Positano of i360

MP: Hey guys, thanks for joining, my name’s Mark Postano I’ve been with i360 since 2011. I actually used to be on the accounts side of things. So I have a good idea of just how, you know, the grassroots tools can merge with our digital side of the business.

So specifically, what that means is ensuring that, you know, clients like the Prosper Group have, you know, audiences, our data online for whether it’s Facebook, programmatic or other targeting—ensuring that they’re talking with the same people offline as online. And so, you know, over the next 30 days, this is going to become big. Ensuring that people have timely data and the right audiences is, you know, we have it in the final push here. So happy to be joining with you all.

RC: Awesome, and Anthony Ranucci.

Introduction: Anthony Ranucci of The Prosper Group

AR: Hi guys, my name is Anthony. I am a grassroots strategist, client strategist at Prosper Group. I’ve been with the company now just about two and a half years. Started in 2018 and have worked with clients all across the country at nearly every level of politics, local, regional, state, and federal campaigns.

And excited to have this conversation today with some good friends at i360.

RC: Alright, and Jeff Vreeland.

Introduction: Jeff Vreeland of The Prosper Group

JV: Hey, good afternoon, everybody. I have been with Prosper Group since 2015 or recruited by Kurt to come work for PG on Thanksgiving while he was walking through an airport. So if you know Kurt, that is a normal phone call to get from Kurt Luidhardt. But, manage over at PG the client services team, so it’s everything on the accounts side, design and development, is under my purview. But, I’ve been working in politics for well over a decade now, I guess, about a decade and a half, almost.

So, I’ve been doing digital marketing the entire time and excited to be here today.

RC: Awesome, well, for everyone on the webinar, I just want to give a little bit of context about the format and how all this works. This is; we’re going to treat this mostly as, like a freewheeling discussion between all of us here.

More than anything, we want to be informative. That’s why; that’s why we wanted to get this group of professionals together and to really inform everyone about what kind of capabilities and tools and strategies are available to use here in the short term. And in the longterm. And so, the goal here is to get a lot of ideas, share a lot of ideas, and have a good discussion, but also to answer questions so anyone who’s on the webinar you see they go to webinar box.

You can ask questions there, we will see the questions, and we’ll be able to present them to the group here, so please feel free to ask a question at anytime. We’re really looking forward to some of the questions that you guys have and maybe some of the challenges that you’re seeing out in the field. So that, that’s our goal is that everyone walks away with little bit more knowledge than they? Then they came here with.

What new predictive models does i360 have available?

RC: So so yeah, just to kick things off a little bit, wanted to go to you, Mark, and talk about some of the new developments at i360. I know at i360 we just released a new set of predictive models, so I wanted to see if you could talk to us a little bit about that?

MP: Yeah, happy to do that, you know, going down the final stretch, i360 has built a few models that will be, you know, are timely and helpful given in the current climate.

First is a presidential ballot. And so you know, are they more likely to vote for Donald Trump or Joe Biden. I think the one important thing is that you know, we finished pulling on this and your survey work to build this model not too long ago, so this model is fresh. It’s not like it was built over the summer. It’s, you know, as far as where people are standing on the model. It’s definitely up to date, and so it’s really good to start targeting off of it right away.

You know, on top of that, we have police funding or defunding, please. However, you want to phrase it, which has become, you know, very popular with campaigns right now. And then also capitalism versus socialism, which you know I feel like it’s dropping out a little bit more right now. But you know, are you more likely to be capitalists or you’re more likely to provoke, promote social or socialism policies. So, you know, kind of the AOC / Bernie Sanders versus the right.

And then finally, which I think is probably one of the most important models that we’ve built, for the final 30 days, is the AB, EV preference model, which is likely heard of, you know, someone to vote early, either by absentee or early vote. Given where we are today with Covid, a lot more people are gonna vote early. A lot more people are gonna vote by absentee. So there’s a lot of you know states where this is the first time that they’re doing this, or if they haven’t done it to this extent.

And in some states, you know we get the actual absentee request data and will provide us with requests. But there’s a lot of states I don’t. North Carolina being one of them that comes to mind where we don’t know who’s actually requesting absentee ballots, so this model becomes really helpful, especially in a state like that’s voting like North Carolina right now. To target those who are, you know, more likely to cast their ballot early versus on Election Day. So those are just a few of the models that we built that you know are available right now for you guys to be targeting off of.

How does a firm like Prosper Group get modeled data and use it for clients?

RC: So Mark, can you help explain a little bit or help kind of walk us through this process? So right, like a lot of people know i360 has data and predictive models and a lot of people know Prosper Group does digital advertising and creative, and you know put all... ...and does the whole execution side of it. Can you bridge that gap? And help explain like how does the data make it to a firm like Prosper Group to actually like apply it for a client?

MP: Yeah, that’s a great question. So you know, at i360, I kind of sit in the middle of that of where Prosper Groups sits with their database. There’s a variety of different ways to match offline data online. You know, for example, Facebook, we have a direct API, so you know the Prosper Group can create an audience within the i360 portal, export that directly to Facebook. Start targeting off that audience.

If it’s more for you know, video and display or programmatic ads, you know we have relationships with partners that actually match data and provide it in whatever platform or DSP that they’re using. And with that, we make sure we have about 120 audiences that are readily available for clients to target off of right away because we know, you know, time is of the essence, and people want to be targeting right away.

We can also do custom audiences if there’s something that’s a little bit more niche. But you know, taking a model like, you know, presidential ballot, for example. We’ll create audiences that are people who score on the high end are more likely to support Donald Trump or vote for Donald Trump this election and provide that to a variety of different platforms and clients so that they can target that data right away. So we’re matching on a bunch of different online characteristics, you know whether you know cookies are kind of dying, but there’s other mobile ideas and things like that, so you can target them no matter where they are or where they’re watching at.

What is and isn't possible when using modeled data in digital advertising?

RC: Sure, sure. So, Anthony on the execution side, can you help explain a little bit about like what is, and probably more importantly, what isn’t possible with data when it comes to actually, like, executing and making the ad buy?

AR: Sure, and it’s good to point out both sides of that. I think the data that we get from i360 is a crucial building block in a lot of audience targeting for our digital ad buys. It really dramatically improves our ability to reach people with messages that they need to hear and are most likely going to persuade them to take whatever action it is the campaign is looking for.

Conversely, I do think that it’s, it’s worth noting that it’s not a perfect process. And, I’m sure Mark knows this, and we all know this, that it’s, you know, you push that data out, and you do your best to match those folks in the online environment, but it’s not perfect. You’re going to capture a good portion of your audience there. But there are certainly other layers and tactics that we’re going to use to build off those models and that data to build a full sort of picture for our targeted audience. But, i360 is a good example of how we can use data to both start a targeting campaign and expand it when needed.

What are you advising clients about regarding digital ads buys in the final weeks of the campaign?

RC: So, entering these final 30ish days of the campaign, like what does that mean, like in terms of like having data or like actually executing some of these buys? What is it that you’re actually talking to your clients about in these final 30 days?

AR: Sure, I think what differentiates the final 30 days from maybe earlier portions of a campaign are going to be the fact that we have off-the-shelf, high-quality data that’s already been onboarded to platforms and is easy to access for our clients. It’s not uncommon for situations to change. There are October surprises. There are all sorts of narrative shifts that happened in the last 30 days that don’t often provide campaigns with the ability to go out and run a survey, build a model, score the model, verify the model, rematch the data.

We now have the ability because you all are doing the proactive work of uploading that data to a lot of the platforms that we’re using to target folks, and we can, you know, turn that over for clients. I don’t wanna say immediately - but pretty much immediately.

How would you suggest campaigns devote additional budgets in the final days?

RC: Well, so like, what is some of that turn around time? Like if a person so, you have a client that comes to you today, and Kurt and Jeff, please feel free to chime in as well, you have a client who comes to you today today and is like, “hey fundraising went awesome last month, I got, I have, an extra 20 grand, 50 grand, or whatever to dedicate towards my digital budget.” Like, what is it that you guys are are suggesting when you get into these closing days?

AR: Yeah, I’ll chime in. I mean there are, you know, especially... I mean, there’s a fundraising component to that, that you mentioned, that I think will will speak a little bit about further down. You know, there are certainly audiences of likely donors - modeled donors - that we can reach out to. But, there’s also folks that are gonna come to us with a specific need in that final 30 days.

And using, whether it’s even just a simple model, like a propensity model, a willingness to go out and vote or participate in the election, gives us a good starting point for someone who just needs, in a very simple way, an understanding of being able to contact voters and siphon off voters that are going to participate in the election, as opposed to people who are not going to.

So, in a very simple way, the propensity models are good there. And, we can drill down on a number of fiscal and social issues. As you know, as have been outlined, but I’ll let some of the other guys talk to fundraising, if that’s...

How is digital strategy influenced by absentee voting and early voting?

RC: Well, yeah, we can certainly, actually, I think we’re gonna talk about fundraising in a little bit. But, one thing I did when I want to ask about, related to this and something mentioned earlier, is absentee and early voting. I know you guys have talked about that a little bit. Like, that’s the big thing right now. From a data perspective we get that question multiple times a day, always getting questions about absentee and early voting.

And, could you guys talk a little bit about what you’re looking at and what you’re suggesting. Or even how absentee and early voting is changing your strategies this cycle versus what you’ve done in past cycles?

AR: Yeah, I mean, it certainly speaks to earlier investment, and I think that, you know... I’ll let some of the other guys answer this question, but I do think from a targeting perspective, just the dynamic aspect of the data. The fact that we don’t have to have campaign consultants up there running down county clerks and secretaries of states for new lists every 48 hours and sending them to us and uploading that process; having a really streamlined approach to onboard data with you all makes it really plug and play.

KL: For us, it means, in the last couple election cycles actually, we’ve had a few campaign budgets that actually were lower in the final week than they were two weeks previous. In some states, so many of the voters have already voted with seven days to go; you’ve got, you know, we’re not doing the traditional ramp-up. Where the, you know, the day before the election is the biggest spending day.

In Arizona, with Martha McSally in 2018, we knew half the voters already voted, with a week to go. So I think that’s a big effect. The early vote means that we’re that spend is moving closer to the beginning of October, even late September, for folks. If you aren’t already targeting absentee voters, you’re already behind.

RC: Your too late, yes.

KL: And, so that’s a big change. And, I think it’s a psychological change for people. Like, you know, we presented a few budgets of clients, and they said, “oh, this doesn’t make any logical sense. Why is the budget lower in that final week?” And the answer is because your people have already voted.

How does i360 adjust for absentee voting and early voting?

RC: So, Mark, what are you doing from the i360 side to help adjust for absentee and early voting?

MP: Yeah, I mean, my job is pretty easy in this process. There’s a lot of behind the scenes. There’s a lot that goes on at i360, like you said, to go to the county clerks and collect that data. But we’re, you know, we’re collecting AB, EV data in about 40 plus states right now. And so, on a daily basis, we’re getting those returns from each state. So North Carolina is one, Michigan is another one where they actually have high early vote, absentee returns right now. And we’re onboarding that to target online. So, whether that’s, again, Facebook, or we’re talking talking about display or video CTV, we’re making sure that that data is fresh and available on a daily basis for exclusions and inclusions.

So, you know we have our AB, EV preference model. But, we also have, in a lot of states, those who are have requested a ballot. So, we can target off those individuals right away as well. So, I don’t think anyone who collects AB, EV data as aggressively as i360, and then also is updating that on a daily basis. So, it really helps our clients make sure that they’re targeting the right voters, that the, you know, at the right times, instead of, you know, knowing days late that someone actually cast their ballot.

How should absentee voting and early voting be used in digital targeting?

RC: Well, and this isn’t as much... I mean, it is partially a targeting thing, but isn’t it more like an exclusion piece? Like, isn’t that like what the real application is here?

MP: Yes, I mean from a return early voter or absentee return. Yeah, 100%. There is... And, your audiences will change too. As you start to, you know, as you start to get closer Election Day, that might change a little bit of how you’re targeting against first-party data. But you definitely want that exclusion there to ensure that you know you’re not hitting people that are just a waste at that point.

RC: So, so I mean I...

JV: That’s one of the biggest things too... Sorry. To piggyback off there, I think that is what also the biggest things that digital can do in combination with good data. Right?

It’s that we’re not wasting dollars. So for mail, you know, for mail or TV if that goes out, it’s kind of okay, we’re going to hit all of these people, and you can make subtle changes as get closer. But, digital can make them on a daily basis.

Right? If I sent my absentee ballot, then I don’t need to see the ads anymore. And so, that’s one of the things, you know, as Kurt was talking about, a lot of our budgets have been shifted these last couple cycles to more, you know peaking mid-October. Now it’s, you know, even earlier. But it allows us to shift those those dollars somewhere else, right? So there is still money left over for get out the vote efforts.

Because that’s still a major part of all campaigns. But, we’re being super efficient with the money. And when you have the data for the back end from i360 and in real-time, we can target that audience from a digital perspective, in whatever capacity we need to. It allows a much much more efficient spend for our candidates.

RC: Yeah, so actually, I want to piggyback or jump on something that you just said. So you said daily! Is that how frequently you guys are making adjustments?

JV: You can, depending on the client. It also depends on the advertising campaign specifically. Right? If it’s AB, EV, it’s not; there is no creative change, right? It may refresh the audience on an individual basis, but it’s all depending on what the client’s needs are.

Most of the time, we don’t change up creative outside of, you know, four to seven days because it takes that long for an optimization period. Um, but if we are doing AB, EV testing, or, excuse me, chasing, we can on Facebook, we can refresh it every day.

How can people get in contact with i360 and Prosper Group?

RC: Okay. I want to go to a couple of questions... Kevin had asked that has a series of questions here, and so I wanted to try to address as many of them as possible. One: Kevin just wanted to know how to contact us. Kevin, I don’t know if you mean i360 or Prosper Group.

i360 is, you can go to our website,, and heck, we even have a chat widget there you chat with us in real-time. Kurt, what is your guys’ website? Is it? You tell me actually.

KL:, we have a contact form there, and we’ll get back to you.

RC: If we were all smart, we would have like put a banner across here with our websites but, yeah.

KL: Yes.

What data services do i360 and Prosper Group respectively provide campaigns?

RC: To answer some of your questions about like the data side of it. Like we’re getting voter files from all states around the country. From all 50 states we’re going, we’re acquiring that usually like straight from the board of elections, or Secretary of State, or something like that. So you know, we’re going and ingesting that, making it available to campaigns. I know you had had a question about like capabilities, I guess. And so, from our side, we just do the data and the grassroots technology.

The Prosper Group side, it’s all, it’s all digital. Or, I mean, I think that that’s the bulk of what you guys do. Right, Kurt? Are there any other side verticals that you guys are a part of? Besides the digital?

KL: No, we are digital-first.

RC: Digital-first, yeah. Do something and do it really good. That’s what we do as well.

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