All Politics is Social Data

You know the social bug has bitten all candidates when even Mitt Romney is running a Twitter ad to promote @mittromney.

The vogue for all things social is one that Socialitical, a New York-based startup firm specializing in political social media advertising, hopes to continue. The firm claims that nearly all of Republican presidential candidates are talking with it — and two are already working with the company.

But Socialitical isn’t just targeting Republicans. Since it emerged onto the scene this past November in preparation for the 2012 election season, it has been clear that Socialitical is a non-partisan firm that wants to work with every super PAC, congressman and local mayoral candidate who will take a meeting.

“This is the first major political cycle where social is going to play a huge role,” said Socialitical managing partner Corey Gottlieb, an advertising veteran with stints at UPN, Paramount and ABC.

The company is a spinoff of Gottlieb’s firm Targeted Social. It provides a set of products and services geared for national candidates, advocacy groups, local candidates and every elected official across the spectrum that want to run a social media campaign.

Initially, Socialitical is focused on Facebook, but the company can also assist candidates on platforms like Linkedin and Twitter. Socialitical offers to help candidates produce creative on Facebook and manage their Facebook pages. The company also boasts of proprietary tools designed to help candidates listen in on the sort of conversations happening on Facebook about them, their opponents and important issues in each race. For example, Gottlieb says Socialitical might have been able to help former GOP candidate Herman Cain get a gauge on how people were reacting to his the sexual harassment allegations against him — and respond more quickly.

The notion is based on mining data. That’s not exactly foreign to political campaigns, which have been crunching data to target specific voter slices for several election cycles. Social media, with people broadcasting likes and dislikes, provides a wealth of new data to use for targeting. That flood of new data requires new specialists.

Creating highly social video ads will also be a major focus for Socialitical. Lastly, Socialitical promises it can help campaigns target potential voters on Facebook and off, and doesn’t shy away from any privacy concerns. Gottlieb emphasized that Socialitical will explicitly get respondents’ permission to retarget them.

Gottlieb, an ad industry veteran, believes that there’s enough of a middle ground for political advertisers to justify a standalone business. “There are minimum-spend commitments,” said Gottlieb, who was actually the first sales executive for the UPN network in the 1990s. “And if you’re a $25,000-$30,000 account, you don’t get much service. It can become an onerous task. It’s the same reason you bring your car to be serviced by a professional. These campaigns don’t have a lot to spend. Sure, they could pick out a few zips and their competitors, but that’s not the end of the story.”

Beyond just local targeting, Gottlieb said that Socialitical’s real opportunity lies in mining keyword lists and building cookie pools of potential voters and issue-driven individuals. Socialitical says it can use such data to target specific users and lookalikes by utilizing DSPs on ad exchanges.

“That’s the breakthrough part here,” said Gottlieb, who’s responsible for much of the advertising in New York City taxis via his prior company, an interactive touch-screen ad network. “On the political side, you have all these lists with voters. It’s completely anonymous. In TV you hope you reach the right people. Here you can find people that drive a Prius and live in the right state and county.”

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