Enrolling more than 600,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest public school system in California and the second largest public school district in the United States.
In 2020, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) needed to raise awareness of and support for Measure RR. The $7 billion bond measure aimed to provide LAUSD with needed funds to implement repairs and upgrades to inequitable facilities and technology, as well as to increase safety measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Measure RR needed 55% of the district’s vote in order to pass, according to state regulations—making positive voter turnout despite the pandemic environment critical.
"The challenge in a campaign like this is you’re looking at a district with 2.5 to 3 million voters, and only 1.7 million likely to vote,” says Tom Clifford, principal of Clifford Moss, the political strategy and public affairs firm representing LAUSD. “While we were able to fundraise, it’s not that much money for a base that size. We only get to send a few mailers, no TV, so we knew targeted digital marketing was going to be essential, focusing on hitting voters who weren’t decided across multiple digital platforms.”
With just three months until the vote, Clifford engaged with award-winning marketing technology company Data Genomix for hyper-targeted social media and advertising digital outreach support.
Data Genomix strategized a data-driven approach to maximize the effectiveness of digital advertising initiatives, breaking down the process into two key phases.
Phase 1: Voter Message Testing & Microtargeting
The first step Data Genomix undertook was polling registered voters within the district to determine their current stance on the issue, likeliness to vote, degree of persuasion needed, and other key data points. The data science team then used this information, cross-referenced with audience demographics, to create granular target lists.
“We only get to send a few mailers, no TV, so we knew targeted digital marketing was going to be essential, focusing on hitting voters who weren’t decided across multiple digital platforms.” -Tom Clifford, principal
These niched lists were matched against LAUSD’s critical message goals to determine best-fit audience subsets.
“A lot of people in the political space aren’t doing ID-resolved advertising, but this is critical to hitting the right voter with the right message and optimizing your budget to ensure success,” says Data Genomix General Manager Jeremiah Guappone.
Phase 2: Campaign Launch & Optimization
With the client’s priority messaging aligned with identified voter targets, Data Genomix tested and launched Measure RR bond awareness ads across multiple digital channels, including social media, digital banner ads & video, YouTube, and Connected TV.
“People are online every day, but they interact with digital media in different ways,” Guappone says. “One day, someone might scroll through their social media, but they might not the next day. How do we get them that next day? Perhaps we use a programmatic banner ad on a website they’re visiting. Then the next evening, when they’re watching a movie at home on a platform like Tubi, we can put an ad there, as well. We have the ability to saturate people regardless of how they’re interacting with the digital world that day.”
Actively tracking how targeted voters engaged with and responded to these hyper-targeted advertisements throughout the campaign, the team was able to make adjustments in real-time to optimize the performance and provide robust performance reports.
“With digital marketing, it’s easy to throw numbers on a spreadsheet,” Clifford says. “You get a report, but the client doesn’t understand it. With Data Genomix, while their reporting was thick, the team took the time to walk through it, explaining and, teaching, answering every question we had. We had frequent touchpoints; the collaboration was just tremendous.”
Ultimately, Measure RR passed with an overwhelming 71.1 percent of the district’s vote—the highest passage of any LA School Bond Measure in the past 20 years.
Clifford credits much of the success in raising supportive awareness, and voter turnout to the 755 ads Data Genomix ran across platforms to 155 micro-defined ad groups. These ads generated more than 66 million impressions for the measure—with a click-through rate of 1.20 percent, about double the industry average.
“We saw traffic pick up on the Facebook page, increased traffic to our website,” Clifford says. “We were very pleased, we knew we were getting stickiness around these ads. In the end, we outperformed polling by 10 percent, we blew our poll results away. I think that’s real evidence that the digital strategy worked.”
He praises the “real-world” results, as well.
“The lion’s share of Los Angeles Unified School District’s students are students of color, students, and families who absolutely deserve to have access to quality schools,” Clifford says. “In California, you don’t have quality schools unless you have a local investment in measures like RR. A supermajority of voters in LA Unified stood up to invest in LA Unified kids, to fix classrooms, and make classrooms safe. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.”