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Goodstein in TIME – Former Obama Tech Expert: Democrats Need a Competitive Primary

Revolution Messaging founder and former Obama for America External Online Director Scott Goodstein published the following article on

Democrats risk falling behind Republicans on technology

For much of our nation’s history, there have been insiders who aimed to quash competition within political parties. Even today, far too many party elites seem to think uncontested primaries are better. However, competitive primaries force an evolution of organizing models and new technologies that benefits campaigns and the public. The lack of a vibrant primary in 2016 would put Democrats at risk of falling behind Republicans in bringing technology to bear on campaign strategy — and that would be a big loss for both Democrats and the country.

In 2007 and 2008, Barack Obama’s stiffest competition was Hillary Clinton. Competing against Clinton — a household name, a former first lady, and a well-respected senator — as a first-termer with a name like Barack Obama was truly daunting. When you have an uphill battle, you are going to get creative, and that’s what we did. As part of his early campaign team, we had to get a new and different set of voters to the polls. We needed to find younger voters who would be motivated by Obama’s message. And for the first time in a presidential primary, that meant using social media and sending messages directly to voters’ cell phones.

Back then, social media was seen as a fun new fad that kids were playing with — not as an organizing tool. Facebook had been open to non-college students for less than a year, and MySpace was in its prime. With each tool, we were able to target different voting blocks. We used Facebook mostly for reaching college-educated people, college students, and super-local groups. On MySpace we targeted young voters, military families (it was an easy way to communicate between military members overseas and family members back home), Silicon Valley techies, the entertainment industry, and women over 35.

Over the course of the primaries, having multiple digital teams experimenting with new techniques pushed each campaign to become better and evolve more quickly. And, quite frankly, we enjoyed the challenge.

In Iowa, we experimented to see if setting up a statewide MySpace page would return new volunteers. In Nevada, we built rapid-response interactive voice hotlines and text-messaging tools that reinvented the process for dealing with election violations. In South Carolina, we launched two-way text messages on canvasses to see how we could better tether canvassers to their local headquarters. On Super Tuesday, we created separate MySpace and Facebook groups to empower Obama supporters to self-organize, kept in touch with our hard-core base on Twitter, and used the social networking tool Eventful to send surrogates to rallies and build crowds quickly. In the late primaries, we tested new ways to engage young voters by combining offline advertising and point-of-purchase display advertising with text-messaging and toll-free hotlines that provided additional information.

By the time the general election arrived, we were wielding more powerful tools with a known return on investment. We even built our own social media site (MyBO) for supporters and volunteers. All of that work during the primaries put the party in a stronger position for the general election. It also enabled Democratic firms and private-sector partners at social media sites to build more and more robust tools in the years that followed to allow candidates to engage with voters and vice versa. These advancements put Democrats at a serious advantage over the competition — and none of these advances would have been realized if not for a hotly contested primary.

So what will we be missing if the Republicans have a debated primary and the Democrats don’t? Their candidates and campaigns will get better at giving a rehearsed stump speech and answering questions at debates and fish fries. But the lost opportunities would go far beyond that.

There is no question that Republicans are catching up when it comes to putting technology to work on the campaign trail — a competitive Democratic primary would allow us to stay out in front. We can pressure-test the new advances in ad-technology and mobile marketing by experimenting in each state primary with real deadlines and real results. Can hyper-geo-fencing different messages affect turnout on an election day? Can Democratic campaigns better divide their resources between direct-mail universes, walkable precincts and geo-fenced ads in gated-communities that can’t be canvassed? Can connected TV be integrated in a campaign’s field and in fundraising efforts?

While the political results of a candidate who isn’t battle-tested are well known, the lasting effects from failing to evolve our political technology could not only put us at a disadvantage in 2016, but also put Democrats behind for years to come.

Revolution Messaging Attends RampUp 2015

By Jimmy Kaduboski

Last month, Revolution Messaging staff joined 1,500 marketing experts at RampUp, LiveRamp’s annual conference in Santa Clara, CA. LiveRamp is leading the way in connecting marketers with the tools needed for improved online targeting and engagement, and RampUp provided attendees with the chance to discuss data, digital marketing and their intersection.

Our own Eden Joyner, Vice President of Media Strategy, participated in a panel titled “What Digital Marketers Can Learn from Political Campaigns.” Eden was joined by other top political consultants to discuss best digital practices, and how campaigns will use digital strategy in future elections.

Eden highlighted how Revolution Messaging’s self-serve digital platform, Revere Exchange, allows even smaller campaigns to have access to modern, targeted advertising technologies. In the past, smaller campaigns would have been locked out of the newest innovations.

When asked about how to decide between advertising on mobile platforms instead of desktop interfaces, Eden emphasized that “you should use as many devices as possible, I don’t think there is a limit on one you should do or one you shouldn’t do. We believe in cross-screen advertising.”

Looking toward 2016, Eden told the audience that she expects to see a lot of investment in dynamic pre-roll advertising “that delivers very specific messaging to very small groups.” While television advertisements have a longer opportunity to deliver a message, Eden stressed that digital advertisements, like pre-roll advertisements, have only a few seconds to capture a voter’s attention, so future campaigns must make that adjustment.

Other sessions at RampUp discussed the importance of measuring and ensuring attribution; making sure that digital advertisements are leading towards action. At Revolution Messaging, this ultimately means ensuring that advertisements are getting out the vote on Election Day.

Voters Beware – This Halloween Scare is Real!


Right Wing Text Spammer is Back with New Super PAC

WASHINGTON,DC — A right wing telemarketer with a history of scaring voters with misleading spam text messages in the 11th hour is back. A new report from the Center for Public Integrity warns that Gabriel Joseph, the man behind the controversial ccAdvertising, has formed a new super PAC known as The Survey Group PAC. This may mean a new round of illegal and anonymous political spam text messages will be coming to a state near you.

Known for spreading false and often outrageous messages through anonymous text messages, conservative text spammers have been hitting voters with uninvited SMS messages the last few Election cycles. In addition to spreading lies about candidates, the spammers have also spread misinformation about where and when to vote in egregious acts of voter suppression. Innocent cell phone users often end up footing the bill for these uninvited spam messages — and have no way to opt out or identify the sender. Revolution Messaging has been documenting and fighting these campaign tactics since 2010 and encourages the pubic to visit to learn more.

“Voters beware: the right wing text spammers are back in business. Consider this your warning,” said Revolution Messaging CEO Scott Goodstein. “When not misused, text messaging is one of the best ways for people to stay in touch with the campaigns they support – from giving donations and sharing event details to sharing big news or announcements. However,  those who abuse the technology keep exposing its dark underbelly.”

Goodstein was proud to make history through the use of text messaging as a political campaign tactic in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. As in that campaign, text messaging is being used by campaigns and organizations across the country to keep interested members of the community up to date and engaged. Texting is one of the most effective methods of organizing available to campaigns. Texts are much more likely to be read and to spur the reader to take action than emails.


Background on Political Text Spam

Revolution Messaging has been leading the fight against political mobile phone spam since 2010 when an onslaught of illegal text message spam was used against Democratic candidates. The organization documented the practice and developed a calling tool for Americans to call their attorney general’s office to report messages.

In 2010, text messages were sent from Joseph’s Americans in Contact PAC (AICPAC) in a dozen states with negative and misleading information about Democratic Candidates as well as containing the phone number of the Democratic campaign office in an effort to jam up their phone lines.

In 2011, Joseph’s company is believed to have sent text messages in the same anonymous way during the Virginia off-year elections where his employee was running for state delegate. Revolution Messaging helped the Virginia Democratic Party’s efforts to stop unwanted text message spam which was being used as a new type of voter suppression tactic in Virginia State Senate races.

In 2012, ccAdvertising was at it again and found their sites suspended by Go Daddy for spam and abuse. FCC complaints were filed against ccAdvertising, Gabriel S. Joseph III, and Americans in Contact Political Action Committee (AICPAC) regarding unsolicited, anonymous text messages sent at the end of October 2012 by both Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington & the Human Rights Campaign Fund.

While Revolution Messaging has a petition before the FCC urging them to take a stand against these practices by clarifying the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Americans should be on the look out for false, misleading and unsolicited text messages.  These illegal texts cost our citizens money and erode our democracy.

Revolution Messaging’s Own Honored in Top 50 Influencers – Campaigns & Elections 2014

Campaigns & Elections announced its annual “Influencers 50” and Revolution Messaging’s founder Scott Goodstein and head of advertising Keegan Goudiss made the list. The firm is honored that two of our own are recognized for bringing the latest in digital technology, analytics and creativity to political campaigns up and down the ballot.

Revolution Messaging was proud to introduce new innovations in 2014 that will alter the political landscape for years to come – particularly Revere, which includes the first self-serve digital ad platform for political campaigns. For the first time, campaigns of all sizes have the latest ad technology and targeting analytics at their finger tips – along with everything they need to run effective social media, calling and texting campaigns.

It has been a revolutionary year, not only for the firm but for political campaigns large and small. 2014 marked the first year in which Americans chose mobile phones over TV or computers. As such, political organizations and campaigns are shifting to meet voters where they spend their time. To help campaigns make the shift to mobile, Revolution Messaging launched Revere in April and another new service called “Smart Cookies” that takes targeting beyond your basic cookie matching to a whole new level of one-to-one targeting of individual key voters.

The firm also made waves this year by taking a creative and often humorous approach to its work. Taking a little inspiration from Jim Henson’s legacy, the firm used puppets in ads for DC mayoral candidate David Catania and for women’s advocacy group UltraViolet. Drawing from the cult bumper sticker campaign to “Kill Your TV,” the firm launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign urging political organizations to “Kill Your TV Consultant” as a way to educate campaigns about the more effective and affordable digital solutions available in 2014.

Learn more about Campaigns & Elections Influencers 50 here:

Revolution Messaging is a leader in full service online organizing, offering fundraising, creative, video, mobile, advertising and technology services. The firm prides itself on bringing the cutting edge technology of the Obama campaign to down ballot political and issue campaigns for as little as $99/month. Follow us @revmsg.

Tales of Online Ad Scarcity Greatly Exaggerated

Campaigns & Elections

Digital consultants: Online ad scarcity a myth
By Sean J. Miller, 10/17/14

The scarcity of online ad inventory has been greatly exaggerated.

That’s what several digital media strategists told C&E in the wake of a New York Times report that prompted a flurry of interest in the availability of Web video ads down the stretch. Sure, some digital real estate has been staked out, the strategists say, but campaigns still have time and space to get their messages up online.

The Times focused on YouTube pre-roll inventory, which it reported is scarce in certain battlegrounds with less than three weeks to go before the 2014 midterms. Moreover, groups likes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lamented that they couldn’t spend money online in some races even if they wanted to. “We learned last week that you could not buy digital ads in New Hampshire and Alaska,” Scott Reed, a strategist for the business group, told the paper.

That’s not exactly true, according to digital media strategist Keegan Goudiss.

“Scarcity helps make people want things more but it’s a little over blown,” says Goudiss, a partner at the Democratic media firm Revolution Messaging. “There’s so much inventory out there — both video and display — there really isn’t a scarcity.”

YouTube spots in Maine are at a premium and a newspaper banner ad on the Anchorage Daily News will come at an inflated cost, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your message out digitally.

“They would have gotten a better price if they had started earlier on, but there’s a ton of inventory out there that people are going to be bidding on,” Goudiss says. “We just have to bid higher.”

Even if YouTube’s pre-roll is booked in your geotarget, Goudiss recommended buying broadcast networks that have separate online streaming channels. “There’s a lot of video networks they can work with,” he says.

Read more at:

2014 Election Protection App is here!


Revolution Messaging is proud to announce our partnership with the Election Protection coalition to produce the 2014 Election Protection and Ya Es Hora apps! The apps offer one single tool for all your voter protection needs.

The apps brings together the services of the best progressive data providers in the business:

Catalist for checking your voter registration status
New Organizing Institute’s Electionary for frequently asked voting questions in your state
Google’s Civic Information API and Voting Information Project to locate your polling place
Verified Voting for lists of voting machines used in your polling place
866-OUR-VOTE for reporting problems at the polls or obstacles to your right to vote

Download the app today by texting EPAPP for English or VOTO for Spanish to 90975.

Make sure you and your loved ones are in the know this November 4th!

Kill Your TV Consultant

At the Netroots Nation conference being held in Detroit through this Sunday, Revolution Messaging is throwing down the gauntlet, unveiling the digital firm’s new campaign: Kill Your TV Consultant.

Riffing off the cult-classic “Kill Your TV” bumper sticker campaign, the firm will distribute “Kill Your TV Consultant” laptop/bumper stickers at a booth at the biggest annual gathering of progressive online activists, politicos and tech gurus which takes place in Detroit this Thursday through Sunday. Simultaneously, they will launch a digital ad campaign microtargeted at Netroots attendees. Demonstrating the power of their ad technology, the “Kill Your TV Consultant” ads will be targeting mobile phones, tablets, and computers of those at Netroots using GPS and the IP addresses of WiFi networks at the conference and hotels.

Screenshot 2014-07-17 11.05.41

“The world is going digital, but TV consultants are still convincing campaigns to spend all their money on only one screen that fewer of us watch,” said former Obama tech guru and founder of Revolution Messaging Scott Goodstein.

“It’s time to expose the truth that TV consultants don’t want campaigns to hear: Americans are spending more screen time with their mobile phones and other devices than with their TVs. In the internet age, where smart data driven work is possible, selling TV ads as the staple of any campaign diet is a little dishonest.”

In fact, a report released earlier this year found that US daily smartphone screen time has now surpassed TV. That’s also true worldwide. If one combines smartphone and tablet screen time the total exceeds TV by nearly an hour per day.

“Kill Your TV Consultant is more than a riff on the famous ‘Kill Your Television’ slogan and definitely NOT a bodily threat to our colleagues who deal with political television advertising. We are trying to kill the idea that the centerpiece of the modern political campaign is the costly and data-starved medium of television,” said firm partner and former White House videographer Arun Chaudhary. “The vast majority of the money made in these deals (and the money is indeed vast) is in the ‘ad buy,’ the actual dollars spent on TV station time, not on the research, creative, or strategic communications around a particular spot. This leads to terrible ads and more of them with a tremendous cost to the scant resources of campaigns, especially smaller ones.”

“As fellow progressives who want to see these campaigns succeed, we are sick of seeing high priced TV consultants wring every cent they can out of these organizations,” said Keegan Goudiss, who manages advertising for the firm. “Candidates can reach their target audience with more precision and better engagement for a lot less money by using creativity and going digital.”

Revolution Messaging is the creator of Revere Exchange, which gives campaigns the expertise they need to precisely target political audiences in ways never before possible. With more voter data than ever before, Revere can reach the right people, at the right place and the right time. It allows microtargeting of very specific demographics and geographies – down to commuters on a specific bus route playing games on mobile phones. All of this means less irrelevant advertising for members of the public and less budget wasted on advertising to folks who are not the intended audience (e.g. out of the district, not likely to vote) for the client. It’s a win-win. Learn more about Revere Exchange.

MD Primary a Win for Education Supporters

86% of Candidates Backed By MD Educators Won Primaries Tuesday

Washington, DC  — Revolution Messaging congratulates the Maryland State Education Association on Tuesday’s primary results. 86% of the 275 candidates backed by the MSEA for their support of public education won Tuesday and will advance to the general election.

Revolution Messaging was proud to work with MSEA to create — a site that makes it easier than ever for voters to find the pro-education candidates in their district. The site received more than 60,000 visits ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

Through the firm’s innovative and affordable new platform, Revere Exchange, the MSEA was able to efficiently and effectively alert their members about their primary candidates where it is most convenient –  online and on their mobile phones. Revere Exchange leverages the latest in targeting technology to run ads at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.


Revere Exchange gives campaigns the expertise they need to precisely target political audiences in ways never before possible. With more voter data than ever before, Revere can reach the right people, at the right place and the right time. It allows microtargeting of very specific demographics and geographies – down to commuters on a specific bus route playing games on mobile phones. All of this means less irrelevant advertising for members of the public and less budget wasted on advertising to folks who are not the intended audience (e.g. out of the district, not likely to vote) for the client. It’s a win-win. Learn more about Revere Exchange here:

Revolution Messaging is a leader in full service online organizing, offering fundraising, creative, video, mobile, advertising and technology services. The firm prides itself on bringing the cutting edge technology of the Obama campaign to down ballot political and issue campaigns for as little as $99/month. Follow us @revmsg.

What Not to Text – Inspired by Anthony Weiner

As they say, America loves a scandal. What the latest on Weinergate shows is that texting etiquette can easily become cause for media attention and could potentially derail your political career.

So here are some pro tips to get you through this whole SMS world. Disclaimer: some of this content will get graphic. (Below, you can find a nice TMInfographic a.k.a. too-much-information-graphic.)

Rule #1:

When sending a text message, make sure the recipients of that message know you’re the sender. Sending random texts to people may not yield the best reaction. Read: don’t even think about sending a text as Carlos Danger. Everyone will know it’s you (or they’ll think it’s Anthony Weiner). It just creates a danger-ous situation. (See what I did there?)

Rule #2:

The timing of your text messages can be really important. When scheduling your texts, make sure you’re not sending them at an inopportune time. Sometimes past texts you’ve sent can resurface when you’re running for mayor of New York City. It happens to everyone…

Rule #3:

Avoid autocorrect. Or your texts may turn into sexts. And Anthony Weiner can tell you all about that life. That being said, always check for typos and grammatical errors when sending SMS broadcasts.

Rule #4:

When you’re mobilizing your subscribers to action, make sure it’s not to that kind of action. Ask your supporters to make a phone call, RSVP to an event or take a poll – no need for other types of action.

Rule #5:

Sending links in texts can be a great tool, just remember to make sure the links are for mobile-friendly websites. If Anthony Weiner had sent invitations to campaign rallies and events via text instead of invitations for more intimate events, maybe things would have worked out differently. :)


Latest on SMS Polling Place Lookup – Hurricane Sandy Updates

Last week, Revolution Messaging unveiled our SMS-based polling place lookup tool, which many of our clients and their supporters or members used to find where to vote on election day. We’re extremely happy that this tool has been a success, but last week’s Hurricane Sandy has made some things uncertain. We are urging users of this service to exercise caution when using it in areas where polling places may be closed, relocated or have their hours changed due to storm-related damage and flooding. The data we deliver with this tool comes from Google’s Civic Info API, and recently Google’s Anthea Watson Strong advised us and other developers using their service as follows:

“The Hurricane Sandy affected states of NY, CT, RI, NJ, MD and VA are still recovering, and we expect to see a number of hurricane related polling place changes. Our data provider is working to collect and publish as many polling place changes as possible. Local election officials are currently focused on disaster recovery and administering the election on Tuesday. To the extent they have capacity to publish changed locations in a format we can use, our data provider is working to ensure we get that information and make it available to you.”

We, along with Google and local election authorities, are doing everything we can to provide accurate information on polling place locations, but in those cases where it may not be certain, we feel it necessary to be honest that local authorities are rightly concerned first and foremost on disaster recovery. Our polling place finder will continue to offer our clients’ members, activists and supporters vital links to allow them to check with the local authorities along with their polling places and addresses, and especially in areas affected by the disaster, we advise them strongly to use these avenues as well.