Media expert cites Obama ‘smart’ targeting, buying of ads


LSU Manship News Service

BATON ROUGE, La. — It gets easier for the politics business every Monday since the election, figures Ken Goldstein, president of the media analysis group hired by the campaigns of both of Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.

Goldstein, president of Media Campaign Analysis Group, on the Louisiana State University’s campus following election week as a guest of the university’s Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs, said in various student settings that election night coverage — he was a consultant to ABC News — was challenging because of the “convincing victory” for the president.

Goldstein pointed to the Obama campaign’s “smart targeting” and “smart buying” of advertisements as a major factor in his edge. Even though CMAG works for both candidates, however, the group’s consulting only provides information necessary to make advertising decisions.

“We’re unique in political consulting because we’re nonpartisan,” he said, explaining that CMAG’s neutral position gives rise to unique obstacles as well, such as remaining unbiased in consulting. “One (option) would be for me to hire a Democratic and Republican, and have a firewall between them.”

Instead, Goldstein’s group provides the same data to each camp as the side asked for it, granting neither party favor nor advantage.

“All of our data was used in their morning meetings, but I wasn’t there,” was the distinction Goldstein made between his and the typical campaign media analysis group. Essentially, CMAG helps each candidate keep tabs on one another’s marketing, allowing them to react.

During the Republican primary, Goldstein famously called the Florida campaign “the most negative campaign ever,” and this trend did not end with primary season. According to Goldstein, the negativity of both campaigns and the strategic media purchases were decided largely by the donors behind the candidates.

Television stations must sell political commercial purchased by a candidate’s campaign at the lowest rate; higher rates are charged to spots purchased by supporting groups, super-PACs, or wealthy donors. This dynamic negatively affected the Romney campaign’s bang for its buck, said Goldstein. More strategic, long-term purchases by President Obama’s campaign “got (him) more ads” for the same dollar.

The tone of the ads were also affected by who purchased them, said Goldstein, particularly for Romney’s campaign. “There were not a lot of positive ads in the presidential campaign, to say the least. There are different imperatives for the incumbent and the challenger,” adding that Romney’s negative ads were less effective because there wasn’t much new to say about the incumbent.

Negative ads are more satisfying for the donors paying for them, Goldstein noted, which means two things: campaign donors affected the price Romney’s campaign had to pay for advertisements and the tone..

“I’m surprised there wasn’t a more positive tone from Romney’s campaign,” Goldstein said, adding that the challenger “didn’t help himself,” either.

“The Obama campaign had a lot of time and resources to execute a 21st Century campaign,” he said, while calling the last-minute fiasco of adding Israel to the Democratic Party platform one of the few missteps of the incumbent’s campaign.

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