by James Hercher

Data Trust, the main conservative voter data company, is “in the weeds” on issues such as server virtualization and raw data integrations, said Chief Operating Officer Michael Marinaccio.

The former digital director for the US Chamber of Commerce and US House of Representatives joined Data Trust last year.

AdExchanger caught up with Marinaccio about Data Trust’s position in conservative politics and what’s changed during the pandemic.

AdExchanger: What’s the role of Data Trust?

MICHAEL MARINACCIO: What we’re known for is our voter file. Data Trust goes to all 50 secretaries of state and the District of Columbia to aggregate public voter data and then streamlines that data into a single product. We’ve expanded the voter file with AB/EV (“absentee ballot and early voter”) data. That means our clients can skip delivering ads to people who have already voted. We calculated that saved around $100 million for conservative candidates and causes in the 2018 cycle.

The third tier we have is consumer data. So if someone is trying to talk to gun owners, say, we append that behavioral information to the voter file. And fourth is a library of data models that our ecosystem partners share. If a candidate is trying to reach regular churchgoers, that model exists in our library, so why reinvent the wheel and pay to create a new model? Products like that and our AB/EV data create huge savings.

What’s on the road map this year?

The focus has been building the voter file as fast as possible. What’s new this year, or at least a sense of urgency, is getting as many cell phone numbers as we can in the voter file data. With everything going on it’s hard to knock on doors, so campaigns are making more calls and texts than ever before.

And this will be the first year we have AB/EV data for every election in all 43 states that provide it. In previous cycles we only had priority states and priority counties.

What’s involved in collecting AB/EV data?

It’s raw manpower.

Florida is a state with an automated system that passes AB/EV data four times a day. But in states like Texas or California, it can be by paper, and you need someone on the ground or directly corresponding with the secretary of state’s office. Some states require notarized signatures.

We wish we could build an API into every state’s system, but in reality it’s a manual process.

Do you connect directly with ad-buying and online media platforms?

As someone with a digital background, what’s front of mind for me is making sure Data Trust data is available wherever possible – or at least everywhere our clients are. That means integrations with all the major social media and OTT platforms.

We don’t want campaigns to be thinking, “Oh no, can I get my Data Trust data into my DSP? How do I get the data into this platform?” That should just be available for all our clients.

Do you expect a big difference this year in terms where political advertisers spend their money online, compared to 2016 or even 2018?

No one is in one place anymore. People are narrowing down into smaller and smaller niche audiences. Sure, you can go on Facebook and find everybody: They have all the names and data. But when you actually run your ad, the same level of reach is impossible. Maybe it’s because certain people like me don’t frequent Facebook as much. Instead, that attention is spread across many more platforms than ever before.

That means campaigns need to be in more places than ever before. For example, if you’re looking for women aged 18-35, you have to break down audiences in different platforms. Can’t just go find them all on Facebook or Instagram, especially if you’re layering in voter file information. The limits of any one platform’s reach means you need to be all over the place now.

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