Quantifying the Trump Effect. An Interview with Cambridge Analytica's Matt Oczkowski

Cambridge Analytica has been in the news recently because of their astute use of big data to guide surprisingly successful political races from Brexit to Donald Trump. But to some like Matt Oczkowski, Head of Product at Cambridge Analytica, these upset victories were no surprise at all.

Charlene Weisler: I am fascinated as to how your company used data to not only predict Brexit but also the election of Donald Trump. Can you give me a quick overview of your approach and any insights?

Matt Oczkowski : A lot of the issues in most public polling and in public perception of the Trump campaign in particular is that most people had a fundamental misunderstanding of who the voting electorate was going to be this year. It was a turnout and sampling problem. So the reason we were hired by the Trump campaign was to quantify the Trump effect which is how Donald Trump is different from the generic Republican. Most data science and data modeling in politics is done “R vs D” – Republicans versus Democrats – like a Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama.  The binary question is solved. But as we both know Hillary Clinton and Donald trump are far different from any type of generic Republican or Democrat. So where we had a lot of success was understanding the trends that unfolded on election night in three major demographic groups which were - a major increase in older rural voters, a massive decrease in the African American vote this year and a slight increase in the Hispanic vote – and once you start to understand these three trends, you extrapolate who is going to show up on election day.  

Charlene Weisler: So you had a sense before Election Day who was going to show up and who wasn’t going to show up?

Matt Oczkowski: Correct. We had the benefit of having access to all of Trump’s donors and all of Trump’s event attendees and when you start to collect this first party data, it starts to give you an inside peek at what a Trump-specific supporter is like. I can compare them to previous Republican donors. I can look at their voter records and see if they showed up to vote before. And that, early on, allowed us to start building a picture what a Trump supporter looks like in our heads. But what was a really big indication was when we started to get absentee ballot and early voter returns about a month or so out from the election. Those three trends that I just mentioned were very apparent in the early vote returns. Wisconsin was probably the biggest surprise in the election this year and we saw these trends unfolding. Four weeks prior to the election allowed us to change a lot of our tactics in terms of candidate travel, media spend, focus on issues and speeches.

Charlene Weisler: So within a four week period, it was possible to change the course of the election?

Matt Oczkowski: Absolutely. We knew going into it that we had to build a really dynamic data program that could keep up with the candidate because depending on the week, Mr. Trump could tweet one thing and it would change the entire view of the electorate on that week. So our data program had to be very elastic which means any time a stone was thrown into the water we had to be able to track the ripples and see what different parts of the electorate were actually moving in a particular direction. So we undertook a big reweighting exercise, four to five weeks out from the election, where we resampled all of our polling, reran all of our modeling  and it showed generous approximate 3 point bumps across the entire rust belt. The state we were most nervous about going into Election Day was Florida. We knew that if Trump won Florida he won the election. We felt really good about Pennsylvania and Ohio so we put a lot of emphasis on Florida. The reason why Florida was so on the bubble for us was because of the significant Hispanic population voting in our persuasion universe. Once we started to see the returns from the rural counties and Florida around 8:30 Central time we knew the election was over. 

Charlene Weisler: Were there any data points that you found to be particularly or surprisingly valuable?

Matt Oczkowski: Yes. If you were to look at a generic Republican in the database, with the issues they cared about, you would see issue #1 likely be Jobs and the Economy , #2 would be Security, #3 would be Government size/Taxes.  For an isolated Trump specific supporter, the three issues were #1 Law and Order, #2 Immigration and #3 Trade. And when you start to understand that profile, an isolated Trump supporter looks a lot like a Bernie Sanders supporter. It is Blue Dog Democrats. It is people who have been disenfranchised by the political system who feel that the government hasn’t done anything for them in the past and who came out to vote this year – and they haven’t been out to a voting booth in several elections (which is a very difficult thing to quantify). I don’t blame most of the press organizations because they don’t have access to a lot of this information and data but I think they were foolish to assume that 2016 would play out like 2012. It was a very different electorate.
Charlene Weisler: Are you continuing to look at the data to see how his presidency will play out and whether there are issues he should avoid or embrace?
Matt Oczkowski: I still don’t have a full understanding of the election yet. There are about four battleground states where I have gotten back data thus far from secretaries of state. There is still a large collection process going on. And as that data comes in we continue to learn more and more about what happened. We are working with a number of clients now taking this program and furthering it to keep this understanding of the American electorate alive for a number of different purposes. 

Charlene Weisler: So if you were going to give some advice to some Democratic candidates based on the data, what would it be?

Matt Oczkowski: There are two things I like to say. One,  it’s throw out the playbook. The Clinton campaign fell into the trap of running the Obama 2012 campaign. Hillary Clinton is not anything close to Barack Obama the candidate. So you need to build a program that is unique towards her. And the other fatal mistake they made, it was not focusing on rural areas. 

Charlene Weisler: I was surprised that of the three top issues for Trump voters, none were the Economy. 

Matt Oczkowski: The fourth issue which would be surprising to you was Wages. People felt that they deserved to be paid more, which is not necessarily a Republican issue, raising the minimum wage of any kind. Economics was a driver. A lot of Trump supporters followed his lead His first major issue was Immigration this election. Law and Order became an issue because of what is happening in the news and the press. Often times we find that the news media drives the discussion in the presidential election. Other years it has been second amendment with reports of shootings. This year there were a particular set of issues that drove the narrative. Economics is always an underlying factor but we found that with that specific core of Trump universe really supported him. 

Charlene Weisler: And the Trump universe is large enough to carry the midterm elections?

Matt Oczkowski: It’s a combination of two things. It's Trump winning his people and bringing new folks into the Republican party out winning the established Republican base. One of our struggles early on was winning back the traditional Republicans that had never seen a style and tenor of candidate like Donald Trump before. So if he can win these two factions, absolutely. And midterm election maps are much more favorable to Republicans than they are for Democrats this year because of turnout. The question is will Trump’s people come out again when he is not on the ballot and I think that is what we are trying to understand and derive here.

This article first appeared in


Challenges to Linear TV. Interview with IRIS.TV’s Field Garthwaite

There are many ways to discover new content through curation and the need is greater as both the content choices and delivery options continue to increase. IRIS.TV boasts that they use, “artificial intelligence and adaptive machine learning to surface the most relevant video for each individual site visitor on desktop, tablet, mobile phone, even if the video is delivered OTT,” according to Field Garthwaite, Co-Founder and CEO of the company.  

Garthwaite has an eclectic background from data-oriented companies such as Rubicon Project to content creation as the Assistant Editor for the Emmy award winning PBS documentary "Girls on the Wall" to research as a Research Assistant at Universal Pictures. His current company IRIS.TV, just came off a strong 2016 by expanding into eleven countries across 5 continents including Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Qatar, Panama and Chile.

Charlene Weisler: What do you see as the biggest challenges to linear TV today?

Field Garthwaite: Consumers receive hundreds of channels from their cable providers and the latest research shows that they watch less than ten percent of the channels. But even then discoverability is a problem for networks and other video providers. Meanwhile consumer viewing habits are trending toward On Demand and TV-centric services like Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon and Hulu. So now, linear TV programmers are competing with websites, apps and social media platforms that utilize interactive recommendation engines like IRIS.TV. It is a big leap from traditional TV to personalized viewing experiences with business rules to guide the video viewing experiences. Traditional TV will not go away, but it will merge and become more interactive as consumption continues to move to digital platforms.

Charlene Weisler: How does the IRIS.TV content curation work?

Field Garthwaite: Let's say the most compelling next video for a particular individual is sitting in the publisher's vault, untouched for months. Because it knows that video will be of genuine interest, IRIS.TV’s personalization engine, Adaptive Stream™ goes and finds it and "programs" it into a continuous stream (teasing it in a preview screen in the corner of the current video.) Suddenly, a video that the publisher hasn't monetized in a long while generates revenue. IRIS.TV can also provide “Netflix style” content recommendations to support user content discovery.

Charlene Weisler: How do you use data?

Field Garthwaite: To optimize video assets' discoverability, we optimize data structure and taxonomy by ingesting asset metadata. We also track viewer behavior and each video's performance so that publishers know what content works across a variety of parameters such as category, device, time of day, and in-stream (knowing what assets generate greater follow-on viewing). All of this happens in the background, automatically.

We also utilize data tools to help customers learn from their audience engagement and consumption patterns. When the Cubs won the World Series, every sports customer of ours had a dozen or more videos. But the reality is that one of those videos outperforms all the rest, and by helping our customers be more data driven, we enabled them to put the best performing video on their home page or on the trending article on the Cubs win. 

Charlene Weisler: How does your company measure TV?

Field Garthwaite: We look at viewer behaviors such as the device the user is using, what time they are engaging, how long they’re engaged, bounce rate, geolocation, demographics, as well as market data including advertising spend and revenue.

Charlene Weisler: How will viewing and measuring TV change with connected TVs?

Field Garthwaite: TV sets remain the number one source for streaming TV and video content in America. If publishers invest in innovative video platforms for their channels and apps, connected TVs will enable media companies to personalize video programming using machine learning and give viewers the “sit back and watch” experience that they love. Connected TVs would make it possible to use data sets to structure and organize TV programming categories such as news, sports, reality TV, documentaries, and to pull content from top sources based on the individual consumer’s preferences. This will also clearly have a positive impact on their ability to get the right commercials to the right viewer.  AI-based personalization essentially lowers costs of presenting customized video programming and increases advertiser revenue, a win-win for video publishers.

This article first appeared in


Turner Ignite Bolsters Client Insight Capabilities through LEAP® Media Investments Partnership

NEW YORK – Turner Ignite, a data and content-driven team within Turner Ad Sales, has announced a partnership with LEAP Media Investments, a strategic data analytics and audience development company. Turner Ignite will tap into LEAP’s audience data, which builds targetable consumer audiences based on their level of emotional attachment to specific brands. The team will be able to provide brand clients with deeper insights into their customers, from identifying their most loyal fans to opportunities to expand into new customer segments.

LEAP’s audience data is based on a patented process that quantifies consumers’ emotional attachment, or bond, to a brand, and then creates sophisticated look-alike audiences at scale. These include: brand enthusiasts, or fans, who are highly attached to a brand; brand conquests, who are moderately attached to a brand; and brand expansion audiences. Turner Ignite will explore additional applications of LEAP’s data with traditional TV viewership data to create curated brand-specific TV plans and models for digital extensions, delivering more opportunities for marketers to reach and effectively engage fans across platforms.

James Russo, senior vice president of client strategy and development, Turner Ignite explained: “As our clients’ marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, fragmented and complicated, it’s imperative that we continue to share insights which connect their most loyal fans to the linear TV, digital and social programs that drive their business outcomes. This partnership continues the vision to deliver the engaged consumers with the right messaging, right programing and right platform.”

Gary Reisman, CEO and Founder of LEAP, commented: “We are excited to work with Turner Ignite.  LEAP’s unique approach is designed to help marketers leverage brand attachment, and our audiences are perfectly suited for brand oriented campaigns executed via linear and advanced TV solutions, high-end digital and social media.”

About LEAP® Media Investments

LEAP Media Investments is a strategic analytics and audience development company.  Its unique audiences – based on consumer emotional attachment -- are used for advanced, strategic audience-based targeting. LEAP has developed brand enthusiasts, brand conquests and brand expansion audiences for over 400 consumer brands and media properties. Audiences are immediately available, at scale for linear TV, advanced programmatic TV, digital, social and mobile media applications. Gary Reisman can be reached at

About Turner Ignite
Turner Ignite is focused on reimagining advertising. Powered by unrivaled branded content services, data-rich ad targeting capabilities, first-of-its kind social optimization tools and global distribution, Turner Ignite empowers brands to build more meaningful connections with consumers and drive return-on-investment at scale. The business unit is backed by Turner’s wide-scale audience of diverse fans within its portfolio properties, including leading media brands Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, Great Big Story, HLN, TBS, TNT, truTV, Bleacher Report and Turner Sports' high-profile coverage of the MLB, NBA, NCAA, PGA and the professional esports league ELEAGUE. In addition, the company has digital sales partnerships with the NBA, NCAA and PGA.


24-Hour TV Advertising: Finding the Right Place and the Right Time for Your Campaign

For those of us who are old enough to remember end-of-broadcasting-day test patterns, today’s 24-hour TV may seem like overkill. But the new never-ending schedule poses both opportunity and dilemma.

Programming genres that were once coalesced into specific parts of the day (such as Saturday-morning cartoons) can now be viewed 24 hours a day, any day of the week. Primetime traditionally was the slot with the highest-quality programming because it garnered the most view and commanded the highest cost per impression (CPM). But now, high-quality programs can be viewed at any time and in any place.

Today’s viewing patterns are very often time-shifted. For advertisers interested in reaching a specific consumer, what was once a relatively clear choice of inventory has become a much more expansive, sophisticated, and complicated playing field. So how does 24-hour TV programming affect advertising schedules? And how can advertisers maximize budgets while still reaching the right consumers?

Avoid Clutter

Commercial pod length and the frequency of pods can reduce viewer engagement and attention. “I think everyone would agree that if you look at the amount of commercials that are inside most programs today, we have really overstuffed the bird,” admitted Michael Strober, EVP client strategy and ad innovation and co-head of Turner Ignite.

Advertising messages get lost in the clutter, savvy advertisers seek not only the right programming, but less cluttered programming, too. Even many TV networks realize the negative impact of clutter and are making efforts to reduce it. “Lighter commercial loads are the right balance,” Strober concluded.

Read the full article on the Videa blog.


Older is Cooler. Surprising Results from the 2017 Mindshare Culture Vultures Study

For those of us who have aged out of the desirable 25-54 demographic, we can now take some comfort and satisfaction from the results of the latest Mindshare Culture Vulture Trends report. Culture Vulture is Mindshare's global cultural trends program that sets out to identify macro and micro trends.  Now in its sixth year, the Culture Vulture has been ascertaining consumer trends with eerie accuracy.

Past studies have correctly mapped out the increasingly divided nature of our society. “Over the years, two of the biggest trends we’ve tracked have been ‘2 Americas’ and ‘Crossover Culture,’ both of which are still two of most impactful trends years later,” explained Alexis Fragale, Director, Consumer Insights, Mindshare NA . According to this year’s study, we are experiencing a Boomaissance as the value of this overlooked demographic now becomes apparent.  

The 2017 study marked ten impactful trends that are then matched with advertiser demographic targets to help in strategy and planning. The ten major trends are ‘Tapped Out’ (Too busy lives and plateauing productivity), ‘Boomaissance’ (Older adults take on a Middle Aged Millennial mindset), ‘21st Century Success’ (Traditional American dream vs dream of personal experiences), ‘Unmasking Unicorns’ (Parsing fake news), ‘My World / The World’ (Widening gulf between personal perceptions and views of the world overall), ‘Mind(ful) Optimization’ (Seeking purpose and mindfulness), ‘Land of the Giants’ (Corporate giants dominate but niche brands fight back), ‘The Informal Normal’ (More casual at work and with friends), ‘ Borecore’ (More and more, we’re posting and watching ‘boring’ content) and ‘Open Lives’ (Less privacy, more exposed lives).  

I sat down with Alexis Fragale and Jodie Huang, Manager, Insights, Mindshare NA and asked them the following questions:

Charlene Weisler: Two of the biggest trends from past studies are ‘2 Americas’ and ‘Crossover Culture’. Can you tell me about them?

Alexis Fragale: In ‘2 Americas’, we explored how Americans' values and lifestyles have been diverging significantly over recent years – making it harder for brands to speak to ‘one’ homogenous country. This was clearly a huge factor in the 2016 election and we’ve seen it move beyond values and lifestyles to other areas like content preferences and our social algorithms. ‘2 Americas’ has been evidenced in our 2017 trends of ‘My World / The World’ and ‘Unmasking Unicorns.’

In ‘Crossover Culture’, we explored how a more connected and complex world gives opportunities and a need for crossover in art, technology, science, ideas, and brands. And in a world where it’s harder to gain consumers’ trust and wallet share, more brands are finding ways to extend their brand into more areas of their consumers’ life. For example, take West Elm who is set to open a hotel, and NBA teams buying eSports teams. ‘Crossover Culture’ has been evidenced in our 2017 trends ‘Tapped Out’ and ‘Land of the Giants.’

Charlene Weisler: What are the big takeaways from this year's study?

Alexis Fragale: First, the report is a reminder on how quickly the world and culture changes. Second, there are pockets of growth opportunities that advertisers may be missing and may need to address differently than before – for example, look at Boomers, or how to deliver against consumers’ changing definition of success. Third, there are a lot of myths out there. Myths about how people are feeling in America. About the types of content people want. About consumer media behavior. That’s why you’ve always got to keep looking at the data – question those myths.  

Charlene Weisler: Do you think advertisers will shift advertising dollars to the Boomer cohort and why?

Alexis Fragale: Boomers control much of the disposable income in America and they are living longer than ever. While companies will still advertise and try to win over younger consumers (which is partly a Customer Lifetime Value play), it would be a missed opportunity to ignore or alienate such a large portion of Americans, especially one with so much spending power. As for shifting dollars to Boomers, it depends on the nuances of both category and jobs to be done within the campaign (e.g. retain consumers, inspire trial, etc.).

Take spirits as an example: for certain brands, their stronghold of users is among Boomers (e.g. Scotch), but to grow the category, they need to appeal to a (21+) millennial audience. They’ll need to strategize how to balance the growth opportunities while speaking to their loyalists.

Charlene Weisler: How is the American Dream changing and how will that impact spending?

Jodie Huang: We’ve seen a bigger push towards experiential over materialism, especially amongst Millennials. These experiences increasingly help define their lives and identities versus the things they buy. So there is a shift in how they spend, the content they look at, and what companies they use to enable this lifestyle change. Travel is one category that will benefit from shift to experiential spending, and the one-upmanship we’re seeing among Millennials (e.g. the race to be the first of your friends to travel to Cuba or planning an epic celebration vacation for your 30th birthday).

Charlene Weisler: How can we dispel myths and fake news?

Jodie Huang: Educating consumers on how to tell the difference between fake and real news will empower the readers and puts the onus on them to decide for themselves whether or not to trust the content they are reading. Tools and content hacking devices can help make it easier to look at the source material, check facts, review credentials and speed up the process of verifying the news.

Charlene Weisler: Give me one descriptor word for each generation.

Jodie Huang: Gen Z: Ephemeral, Millennials: Savvy, Gen X: Overlooked, Boomers: Idealistic

Charlene Weisler: What advice would you give advertisers today to best prepare for the future?

Alexis Fragale: A lot of industry ‘futuring’ work tends to be wrong, especially in highly uncertain categories (the famous quote: “Wall Street indices predicted nine out of the last five recessions”). The best you can do is map plausible scenarios and prepare for a small number of likely outcomes. Our Culture Vulture work throws up the trends that may underpin different category and media scenarios. It’s important to keep a pulse on the directions the world may be heading in, and what the implications are for brands. We recommend three things:

Talk to consumers as frequently as possible (or ensure that your agencies do). At Mindshare, among our other ongoing surveys and research, we run monthly ‘consumer conversations.’ We speak to the early adopters of technologies or behaviors (e.g. right now we’re chatting to folks who have Amazon Echos and Google Home). Look to understand the drivers and barriers of new behaviors to understand the impact to the brand today and tomorrow.

Set up a committed test-and-learn program, with a funnel of hypotheses that come from consumer insights/research, and an overarching measurement strategy.

Get out and experience the emerging technology and cultural spaces – do monthly safaris out into new format retail stores, or set tasks for your organization to download and trial the newest app (e.g. try Meitu).

This article first appeared in


Viacom: Driving the Cultural Conversation Viacom Synergy - Staying Ahead of the Future

They say that the future is not written. But it is possible, with perspective, data and innovation, to come close to what can be expected in the media market going forward. How can a corporation stay ahead of the future?

I sat down with five executives - Valerie Bischak, EVP, Marketing and Partner Solutions, Deb Brett, SVP, Marketing and Partner Solutions, Sarah Iooss, SVP, Business Development, Gabe Bevilacqua, SVP, Data Strategy and Kiel Berry, SVP, Co-Head, Viacom Labs - to look ahead and explore the future from both a personal and corporate perspective. Here are some insights from the group:

Do What Has Never Been Done Before
Experimentation and curiosity are the cornerstones in navigating a successful future. When it comes to corporate success, according to Brett, it is Viacom’s ability to bring advertisers “the ‘bright and shinies’ – things that have never been done before” that make it an innovative leader with clients and the creative community. “We have the infrastructure for the speed to market,” she added.

Viacom’s (and the media industry’s) ability to mine data for bright and shiny insights has never been better. “Viacom is up to some very interesting forward thinking things in the realm of data exploring what the evolution of television looks like,” Bevilacqua explained. “The data space is changing just in the year and a half I’ve been here. Data in general has gone from ‘this is a test’ to ‘this is part of the conversation’ and while not every advertiser may be executing television primarily with data, we have moved beyond the pilot phase to something that can work at scale.”

Creative Hiring
Cohesion starts with the people. It used to be that companies sought new hires with specific work experience in the field of the job opening. Now, not only does one not need a strict media background to qualify for work in media, many far flung areas of work experience can be applicable and even advantageous. 

When it comes to hiring, Bevilacqua noted, “everyone I interview gets asked the question – are you excited about solving a problem that no one has solved before? There are not going to be instructions on what I am going to put on your desk. If you are not excited about that, this is not the role for you.” Iooss mines for talent through social media, “in my own network, Linkedin, Facebook to seek people with untraditional backgrounds.”

Flexibility and optimism are also factors in future success. “The exciting part of our jobs,” Brett said, “is that we are going to be in something in 5 years that may not exist yet. And we are going to be bringing these same best practices and the same foundation to it. But what we will apply it to may not yet have come into the mind of the entrepreneur inventing it.” Bevilacqua added, “I am excited and optimistic about change. It will be fun and there will be opportunity. At Viacom we are embracing that in a big way.”

Make Strategy Part of the Job Description
For some, predicting the future is part of the job description. “Viacom Labs began in Spring 2016. At Labs our job is to look five years out,” replied Berry. “We are definitely grounded in the present in terms of what our brands are currently doing but we are futurists. Within five years we will be looking five years further out. We know that there will be some burgeoning trends that will materialize and we can start to work with them in our brands.”

Despite the constant change, there are certain things that are everlasting and sacrosanct. Bischak explained, “There is one constant and that is that we will still be looking for great ways to connect great advertisers to our great content wherever fans are consuming it.”

This article first appeared in