If you were watching The Walking Dead this season and thought, “I sure am seeing a lot of ads for Donald Trump,” it’s because you actually were.
In an interview from Forbes, Jared Kushner, head of Trump’s campaign data, explained that he created a unique program to reach certain audiences. Instead of spending money on ads for most of television, this program found out what people in each area liked about Trump’s campaign, what TV shows they watched, and correlated the two.
Kushner’s dialogue here got fairly technical, but Forbes helped make the strategy a little easier on the eyes.
Kushner’s crew was able to tap into the Republican National Committee’s data machine, and it hired targeting partners like Cambridge Analytica to map voter universes and identify which parts of the Trump platform mattered most: trade, immigration or change. Tools like Deep Root drove the scaled-back TV ad spending by identifying shows popular with specific voter blocks in specific regions–say, NCIS for anti-ObamaCare voters or The Walking Dead for people worried about immigration. Kushner built a custom geo-location tool that plotted the location density of about 20 voter types over a live Google Maps interface.
Basically, this program found out that people who watched The Walking Dead, and lived in certain areas, were more likely to agree with Trump on his immigration policies. Therefore, they heavily ran immigration ads during The Walking Dead.
This strategy hadn’t been seen in politics before, but it turned out to be quite successful. When the next election rolls around, expect more candidates to adopt a similar strategy.
The election may be over now, but don’t think that means The Walking Dead will have fewer commercials. They will still be there, in bulk, just about candy bars and SUVs instead of political candidates.