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Protect Your List

How list swaps and joint actions are killing digital fundraising…

By Mike Nellis

I’ve been doing digital fundraising for almost a decade now, and it seems like every single day one of my clients has been approached by another campaign or organization to do what is called a list swap or joint action. Essentially, you voluntarily give up all or part of your list to acquire an equal number of email addresses from a similar-minded campaign or organization.

Sure, it’s a cheap way to build an email list, but is it the most effective?

The answer is no. The more email lists your subscribers are on, the less likely they are to see your message in their inbox or donate to your campaign. Additionally, if a portion of your email list is acquired by what we call a “bad faith actor” — a campaign or organization that sends an excessive amount of emails and uses deceptive tactics to “trick” people into donating (FINAL NOTICE to our friends at the DCCC here) — then they are less valuable to the campaign over the long run.

It has become a defacto policy at Revolution Messaging in recent years to recommend against list swaps or joint actions. We believe that your supporters should be treated with respect and dignity. They are not property to be handed off to some other entity without their consent. At Revolution Messaging, we are betting that our clients will raise more money over the long-term if we treat them less like ATM machines and more like people.

We are not alone in this idea. By doing list swaps, you put your activists, donors and general supporters at risk of being spammed by other campaigns. Remember, campaigns you do list swaps with are likely also doing list swaps with dozens of other campaigns, so you are exposing your list to significant harm.

Campaigns should value and protect their list, hold onto it and keep it safe from abuse.

Luckily, there is a better way to grow your list and foster long term engagement and fundraising success — digital acquisition through sponsored content on social media and paid petitions.

Yes, this does cost money. You will need to invest in acquisition in order to raise significant money online. With a good email fundraising program, you can see a return of 3 to 1 from acquisition campaigns, as opposed to a net negative return from campaigns that are using list swaps and joint actions. Once you have built an audience, focusing on math, targeting, testing, and optimization will only increase the value of your list behind your acquisition dollars.

All of the most successful Revolution Messaging clients like Bernie Sanders and Tim Canova are utilizing this model to raise millions in small-dollar, individual contributions.

Why aren’t you?

Need help building a loyal email list? Reach out to us today for acquisition help.

Donald Trump, The Billionaire Pocket Spammer

Trump Campaign Sued for Unsolicited Text Messages


By Sam Lozier

Shocker. Donald Trump is a Pocket Spammer.

At the end of April, the Trump campaign was sued for breaking federal law by sending thousands of unsolicited text messages to mobile users throughout the country. Though we don’t know how widespread the blast was, the idea of it is so wrong for unsuspecting mobile users and agencies who follow the proper mobile opt-in regulations.

The law is clear. Regulations require users to opt-in to receive messages because the cost of the messaging is charged to each cell phone. The Trump campaign broke these rules, costing end users money for those text messages that billionaire Trump was not paying for.


Via USA TODAY: “The federal lawsuit filed Monday contains this image of the text message plaintiffs say was sent, unsolicited, by the Trump campaign. (Photo: Photo via federal court record)”


Luckily for users and agencies in the space, the Trump campaign is facing a lawsuit for the unsolicited blast. The campaign could be fined up to $1,500 per text message received by each customer.

It took Revolution Messaging nearly five years to get the FCC to stand up for mobile phone users and make these violations crystal clear under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It all started in November of 2010 when, after an onslaught of illegal text message spam was used against Democrats, Revolution Messaging developed a calling tool for people to call their attorney general’s office to report misuse of political text messages.

In anticipation of continued misuse in the 2012 election, we ramped up the effort to fight text spam. We did our homework, set up hotlines to different states’ attorney general’s offices, and eventually filed a petition with the FCC asking that they clarify the TCPA to protect consumers from companies sending political spam text messages. Finally, after accepting comments and reviewing the cases of misuse, the FCC ruled in June of 2015 to protect consumers from unwanted political text message spam — exactly what Trump tried to do this cycle.

We are proud of the hard work that went into preserving the text message space and hope the Trump campaign’s misuse is a message to others who attempt to spam voters in the coming election.

You can read all about Revolution Messaging’s push to protect consumers and the mobile industry here.

Our Snapchat “Story”

By  Loren Merchan and Kate Lardner

While some may think Snapchat is just used by teens and tweens, more than 60 percent of 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. use the social media platform. The app boasts that it has about 100 million daily active users and averages ten billion video views a day. It’s no wonder Snapchat is quickly gathering the attention of advertisers – especially our team at Revolution Messaging.

In February, we created the first Snapchat ad placement for a Democratic candidate – ever. We helped Bernie 2016 place a series of filter ads for the nine days leading up to and including the Iowa caucus. It was also the first time Snapchat ran a geotargeted campaign for that many consecutive days.

The series of filters featured a cartoon Bernie counting down the days to the caucus and asking Iowans if they were ready to “Feel the Bern.” The ads quickly caught the attention of Iowans and the media, garnering articles by news organizations such as Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal. The Bernie Iowa snapchat filters were viewed more than 3 million times (views are the number of times someone sees a filter in a Snap that was sent to them or that was in someone’s Story).

Since the Iowa caucus, we have run several more Snapchat campaigns for Bernie 2016, but this isn’t the only Revolution Messaging client to benefit from our experience in this unique space. Our team has been granted early access to Snapchat’s self-serve platform – and we’ve been putting it to use.


UltraViolet, a women’s rights organization and longtime client of Revolution Messaging, has also successfully launched several geo-targeted Snapchat filters. One of these filters geofenced SONY’s headquarters in Manhattan during a rally to support pop musician Kesha. Despite the short run time and small area, this filter resulted in almost 10,000 views. The filter also received attention on other social media platforms, like Twitter.

As organizations and candidates on both sides of the aisle continue to take advantage of Snapchat’s advertising capabilities, it is clear that a presence in this political engagement space is not only valuable, but also necessary to stay ahead of the ever-changing – and more difficult to penetrate – digital market. Creativity, proficiency and experience with Snapchat allows advertisers to cut through the clutter and engage with audiences both on and off the platform.

Your campaign could be the next to try out Snapchat filters. If you are interested in learning more about Snapchat, let us know.

Revolution Messaging Named Digital Strategists of the Year, Wins Nine Pollie Awards

By Maeve Stier

It is an incredible honor to be recognized by our peers in the political campaign community. We are truly humbled to announce that the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) named Revolution Messaging the Digital Strategists of the Year. The Campaign Excellence Awards are a longstanding tradition but this is the first-ever award for ‘digital strategist of the year,’ a reflection of the dramatic rise in importance of digital strategy for political campaigns.

Last night, the AAPC held their annual Pollie Awards. Dubbed “the Oscars of political advertising,” Pollies are awarded for excellence in political communication and public affairs work. This year, the Pollie Awards recognized Revolution Messaging in nine categories, including Overall Best in Show for Bernie 2016.

We are honored to have won the following categories:

Web Video Gold #GoodellMustGo – UltraViolet

Best Internet Campaign Gold – Bernie 2016
Best in Show Gold – Bernie 2016

Website – Presidential Primary – Democrat Gold – Bernie 2016
Internet Advertising – Presidential Primary – Democrat Gold – Bernie 2016
Web Video – Presidential – Democrat Silver Backstage with Killer Mike – Bernie 2016

Best Use of Overall Internet Fundraising – Presidential Primary – Democrat Gold Bernie 2016 Grassroots Fundraising – Bernie 2016
Best Fundraising Gift With Donation Gold SuperPACK of Supporters – Bernie 2016
Best Use of Email Fundraising Gold Ben & Jerry Email – Bernie 2016

Thank you to everyone whose hard work and creative energy went into making these campaigns a reality, and congratulations to all other Pollie Award winners.

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!