Voter Targeting in the Streaming Age

Voters are online more than ever. Before the COVID pandemic, the average American spent 7+ hours with digital content per day. And as social distancing largely continues, research estimates people are streaming as much as 4 additional hours of TV, movies, and music each day.

But at the same time, it’s never been harder to reach them as the rules of engagement continue to change. This election cycle, Twitter, Spotify, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Pinterest banned political ads. Google, Hulu, and Pandora removed the ability to directly target from a voter file — a cornerstone of digital buying since 2012. And just last week, Facebook gave voters the ability to opt-out of political ads altogether.

As we head towards a must-win election, Democratic groups need the tools to reach voters where they are, level the playing field against better-funded Republican efforts, and future-proof digital outreach against additional policy and regulatory changes.

That’s why we’re excited to launch Doppler, the newest addition to our voter contact tech stack.

Building on the capabilities of our Precision Network voter targeting platform and data from our Vantage survey measurement, Doppler allows campaigns to deliver as much as 2x on-target frequency for the same budget in this new regulatory environment — especially on streaming video and audio platforms where voters are now spending their time.

The Doppler platform improves media optimization by:

  • Slicing and scoring an audience into targeting segments. As direct voter-file targeting becomes less possible — especially on new streaming platforms favored by cord-cutting voters — Doppler finds the next best path to reach our audience. It analyzes every combination of demographic and geographic targeting available on a platform to identify the most efficient way to deliver ads to voters
  • Ranking media platforms + sites in terms of time spent+ efficiency for your target audience
  • Tracking reach, frequency, and quality across devices. Efficient media planning is where the work starts. But the most important part of any media campaign is optimization. Doppler tracks delivery across devices to make sure our ads burn in, and quality to make sure our ads are seen by people — not bots.
  • Not being platform or data dependent. Doppler meets platforms where they are — and can work with any targeting options available

Here’s how it works in practice:

Case Study: Mobilizing Michigan Voters

In 2016 President Trump won Michigan by just 0.23% (fewer than 11k votes). At the moment, Vice President Biden leads President Trump in the polls, but with five months to go, the state remains as critical as ever. Here is how Doppler allows campaigns to best reach Michigan voters between now and Election Day.

Who we need to reach:

The 873k highest priority group is a diverse set of voters spread across 627 zip codes in the state. If we run media targeting the full state, only 1 in 10 impressions will reach this audience. And if we target only the most concentrated demographic group of younger (18–34) voters, fewer than 1 in 5 will reach the audience — and just half of our key voters would ever see a digital ad.

How Doppler more effectively reaches these voters:

As all major media formats now reach most U.S. adults, the question isn’t “who’s using” which platform but “how long” they use it for. But most campaigns still plan media based on reach — or how many voters use a specific site or platform. Instead, we score sites and platforms based on time spent to make sure voters actually see our ads.

Once we’ve identified the right platforms, we need to find the best way to target on those platforms. Doppler takes the 627 zip codes our audience is spread across and turns this into nearly 11,000 combinations of possible demographic and geographic targets. Every combination is scored based on a) Target Density (how much of our audience it will reach) and b) Target Quality (how much potential backlash ads might drive). So for example, in 48706, it makes sense to target 18–34 women (22% are our target voters), but not men (fewer than 7% are).

Doppler then does the same process at scale, across every zipcode, until we have a ranking of the most to least efficient targets in the state.

Once we’ve identified the best segments, Doppler builds a specific set of rules tailored to each platform — so we can reach voters on YouTube, Hulu, Roku, and anywhere voters are as efficiently as each individual platform’s policies allow.

In practice, this puts between 1.3x — 2x more media on target — and would save between $221k — $700k / month for a typical statewide campaign.

We’re happy to talk about the best way to reach your voters. Drop us a line at

From the Bully Pulpit