We may call our home the Hudson Valley, the Catskills, or upstate, but for the next 15 months, our region will be known to many as NY-19, a Congressional toss-up district with possibly 10+ people running for the same seat. It’s hard to predict what will happen with the race, but as a digital marketing agency, we know one thing for sure: our Facebook news feeds are going to be crammed full of political content that’s micro-targeted to us.
As we enter a historically long campaign cycle, we wanted to get a snapshot of what makes NY-19 voters tick. We used the same social media targeting tools that we’ve used on past political campaigns that we’ve worked on; we uploaded the full voter rolls to Facebook, and segmented the audience into three groups: Democrats, Republicans and Independents who voted in the 2016 General Election. We then used Facebook’s Audience Insights tools to micro-segment the audiences into dozens of groups to challenge our assumptions and gain new insights about the electorate. The result? 19 social media insights about the fightin’ 19th district on Facebook:
1. Last year, about $3.1M was spent on digital ad buys in NY19.
AdAge reported that across the country, $9.5B was spent on local, regional and national political advertising budgets in 2016. That includes a $1.4B spend on digital advertising, an increase of almost 800% since 2012. We’re one of 435 Congressional Districts, so we estimate that we got about 1/435th of the total budget.
2. The average NY-19 voter saw 1,250 political ads online in the 2016 election cycle
3. An average of $11 per voter was spent in NY-19 online
Democrats, Republicans and Independents all saw different ads in 2016, but an average of $11 across the board per voter. Assuming an average cost per impression of about 7 cents, we estimate that voters saw an average of 1,250 paid political ads in their news feeds, website banners, Pandora streams, and email inboxes during 2016.
4. The average NY-19 Voter clicks 17 Sponsored Posts a Month
The average American had an “a-ha” moment about Facebook in 2016; what was once considered a frivolous place for baby pictures and animal memes became a breeding ground for political movements on both the right and left. Across the country and all age groups, the average user spends about an hour a day on Facebook’s platforms, and as you can see, they have no qualms about clicking on sponsored content that resonates with them intellectually and emotionally.
Still skeptical? Some people even believe that Facebook content posted by Russian operatives changed the outcome of the last election. It can be powerful stuff.
5. 63% of NY-19 Voters are “Exact-Matched” on Facebook
Since half the country doesn’t vote, it’s important to make sure that actual voters get targeted with political ads. Exact-match is a tool that political marketers use for quality control; by uploading voter rolls to Facebook, one can control what kinds of voters see what content, and dive into millions of micro-targeting options to increase the effectiveness of their messages.
The Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns famously did great jobs of using exact match voter targeting.
A 21 year old Democrat in New Paltz who likes Bernie Sanders and shoots guns on the weekends should see different ads than a 45 year old dad from Millerton who voted for Mitt Romney but supports Planned Parenthood.
173,000 of the 275,000 Democrats, Republicans and Independent voters from 2016 are exact-matched on Facebook; we suspect tens of thousands more can still be targeted through less guaranteed means, but for the purposes of this analysis, we’re going to focus on extrapolating opinion data the confirmed matches.
6. NY-19 Voters Can Agree on Liking Lots of the Same Things
After uploading the voter rolls to Facebook, we checked out some audience insights, which are based on things that the users like and engage with on Facebook. Audience segmentation is at the core of digital marketing at scale; ad dollars can go the furthest if the right message is directed at the right audience segment.
Here are the top 25 Facebook pages liked by each separate group; pages liked by all three groups are in teal, and things liked by two of three groups are in yellow.
Kudos to Hudson Valley Weather for being the only local thing that every NY-19 political constituency agrees on!
7. Among Independents, Bernie Is 4X More Popular than Hillary
8. Among Democrats, Bernie is 3x as Popular as Hillary
As the Daily Kos pointed out, the candidate at the top of the ticket mattered in NY-19. Facebook data back this up: not only is the “enthusiasm gap” real among Democrats, it’s especially true among Independent voters, who, even eight months after the election, are still feeling the Bern.
9. 25% of Democrats Engage With Trump Content, But Don’t Like Him
While Donald Trump’s page is the #1 most-liked thing by Republicans, and the #15 most-liked thing by Independents, it’s not even in the top 100 of Democrat’s most-liked pages. However, 25% of Democrats are tagged on Facebook as being “interested” in Trump-related content.
10. According to Their Interests, Independents Who Stayed Home Are Identical to Voters
We uploaded a list of 56,000 NY-19 Independent voters who’ve voted in an election in the last four years, but sat out of the 2016 General Election. 32,000 of them are active on Facebook, and across hundreds of data points, they were demographically identical to the group of Independents who actually did vote. Targeting this specific group will be a key to winning the next election.
11. Almost 85% of NY-19 Voters on Facebook are Homeowners
Here are some of the demographics of NY-19 voters:
12. Independents Voted for Donald Trump, but are Moderate On Planned Parenthood…
13. LGBTQ Issues…
15. And I Fucking Love Science:
16. Independents Skew Conservative on the NRA…
17. Military issues…
18. And environmentalism
19. You can have similar interests even if you disagree on political issues!
NY-19 Democrats and Republicans are within a couple of percentage points when it comes to drinking wine, cider and beer, enjoying bicycling and outdoor recreation, liking the Hudson River, eating cereal, playing video games, watching movies, and valuing things like friendship, love, and family. So even if you can’t see eye to eye with your neighbor on the issues, take your mind off things by bringing them a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, watching some Ellen clips together, going shopping at Target, and talking about the latest Hudson Valley Weather report. You still have lots in common.