The Scripted Podcast is a show created for content marketers and content writers featuring real Scripted writers. We'll talk about best practices in content and SEO, our favorite marketing tools, how to find and hire writers, and all the fun and misadventure that comes with being a professional freelance writer.
A really interesting and fun chat, we thank Keegan for coming in and shedding some light on marketing in presidential politics for us.
Keegan's Agency 1215.co
Creative Majority PAC
Kevin O'Connor [00:00:00]: Welcome to the Scripted Podcast. We are your hosts. I'm Kevin O'Connor, Marketing Director here at Scripted.
John Par [00:00:07]: And I am John Parr, Writer Community Manager.
Kevin O'Connor [00:00:12]: And today we are talking about Marketing in Politics. I don't know what made us want to talk about this subject in this particular time, but it seems oddly appropriate, don't you think, John?
John Parr [00:00:19]: I would say so. It's that very special time of year and this is a very special episode of the Scripted Podcast.
Kevin O'Connor [00:00:24]: Indeed, indeed. Our guest today is Mr. Keegan Goudiss, former director of digital advertising for Bernie 2016, and co-founder of 1215.co, a company focused on helping political organizations, non-profits and agency scale. Keegan has been on the front lines of a major presidential campaign, and we're hoping he can tell us what the experience is like as a marketer and shed some light on what both campaigns must be going through a week out from this historic event.
John Parr [00:00:56]: Yeah, this is gong to be really exciting. Of course, none of the views expressed in this episode are representative of Scripted, we are but mere employees running this humble podcast. But I think it's going to be super exciting to kind of get a view of what it looks like on the other side of a political campaign.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:16]: Absolutely, I'm excited. Let's bring in Keegan.
John Parr [00:01:18]: Cool. Let's get into it. This is probably where we should play a vaguely political broadcast song.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:52]: Keegan, welcome to the show.
Keegan Goudiss [00:01:53]: Thanks for having me, Kevin.
Kevin O'Connor [00:01:54]: Thanks for being here. I guess first, why don't you tell us a little bit about revolution messaging and how you got started with Bernie 2016?
Keegan Goudiss [00:02:04]: Yes, I was the first hire for revolution messaging in 2009 and became a partner a year later, and...um. There's one of the stories where right place, right time. Where we were a few nerds who knew how to make websites and run ads on what was the very beginnings of the Facebook ad platform. And things just kinda took off because there was no one at the time really doing that in politics. So, we built a text message platform and a calling platform. We originally started off as a way to bring mobile marketing tactics to political campaigns, because no one was doing that yet. And that evolved into becoming a full-scale digital agency. Back then we called it New Media, it then became Digital. So, you know, we were working with Martin O'Malley's team in 2014 and actually we got in an argument with his tv consultant. He was advising the governor to run to the right of Hillary Clinton. We told him he was f***in crazy. I'm sorry. I should ask, can I actually curse on this?
Kevin O'Connor [00:03:22]: Yeah, yeah.
John Parr [00:03:23]: You can now.
Keegan Goudiss [00:03:24]: And so, we, well that tv consultant actually didn't end up working with the O'Malley campaign. We were like, we're not gonna go, we're a bunch of democratic socialists, although we didn't know the term then, but yeah, we're not gonna go and work on a campaign that's to the right of Hillary Clinton. So, we left that, which thankfully turned out to be a good decision. And, we were like, well we know some people that work with Bernie Sanders. He's an amazing senator and we're all fans of his, and so we started pitching them. And Bernie hadn't made up his mind if he was going to run or not. We started meeting with him and his team and had good meetings; he liked our ideas. Then we got called in. I'll never forget this moment. We got called into an office of the DSCC, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. We were meeting with him and Jane, and his chief of staff at the time, and a few other consultants. And he told us, okay, well I'm gonna run. We're like, great. When do you think you're gonna file, and he's like, Thursday, and this was Monday. We're like, ohoh, you know, do you think you could maybe file later? He said, well, no no. I'm just gonna file the paperwork on Thursday. I'll announce to the campaign later. It's like, no, once you file the paperwork it's
Kevin O'Connor [00:04:48]: It's announced.
Keegan Goudiss [00:04:49]: You're running for president. We didn't even have a website. We didn't have anything ready to go. So, we tried and failed at dissuading him from running, but his mind was made up. From running, announcing then. And I, you know. If you look back, there's a really funny video of him. We convinced him to, well actually this was Tad Devine, his tv consultant, but, convinced him to - Well, you have to talk to the press when you file the paperwork. So, he went out, in this, you know, famously Bernie moment in front of the capital for a press conference to announce he was running for president.
Kevin O'Connor [00:05:22]: I got to get back to work. Okay, bye.
Keegan Goudiss [00:05:23]: At the end of it. But, yeah, from that moment we were, as we call it, building the plane while it's flying. It was, you know, everything was kinda by the seat of our pants for the entire campaign. And you, obviously took off in ways that none of us could have imagined.
John Parr [00:05:44]: Right. So, like I guess that would kind of set a precedent for you guys. Where it was kind of just full steam ahead as soon as you started.
Keegan Goudiss [00:05:52]: That's it, John. It was always, you know, how can we do things very very quickly and react quickly. And luckily for us, we had a team that was really good at that. I'm sure you see this in the business world, as well. Like with digital marketing, being able to act nimble is really critical for success.
John Parr [00:06:11]: It's everything, yeah. I imagine you guys had a lot of sleepless nights.
Keegan Goudiss [00:06:15]: Yes. Yeah, it was tough and uh. Like, I didn't work on presidential for 2020. Part of that was just because I don't think my body could've handled it again.
John Parr [00:06:30]: I can only imagine.
Kevin O'Connor [00:06:32]: Yeah, so, your work with Martin O'Malley I guess didn't last very long. But, it made me of, what is that relationship with? What is that relationship like with Bernie 2016? With the other arms of his campaign. How does that kind of work?
Keegan Goudiss [00:06:52]: Yeah, it was very solid, the 2016. Like, to their credit, the 2020 campaign did a better job of this. We set up, we were the first consultants in there, besides Tad and Julie and Mark. We found out later that the original plan was to hire us to help teach the staff what to do and then fire us. But, we were. Because Bernie doesn't like consultants. Like, that's kinda his thing. He doesn't trust consultants. I get that. But, being a consultant, I obviously think I'm of value to him. And I think that there's always a need for having a consultant. But, I can also understand where having someone on your staff doing most of the work is valuable, too. So, you know, it's, we were. We created this operation in DC. There was the Burlington headquarters and then there was the staff that traveled with him. The epicenter of the campaign was really travel with Bernie, because once the rallies started taking off, he was always on the road. So there was kinda a traveling campaign, and there was the Burlington office that dealt with a lot of things in the non-digital space, and then the digital team in DC out of our office.
Kevin O'Connor [00:08:10]: So, was the, did the strategy come from the main campaign team and then you guys kinda implemented that in the digital realm? Was that kinda how it worked?
Keegan Goudiss [00:08:20]: Yeah, a lot of it was just like capturing what Bernie was really the one that dictated the strategy most of all. Tad and Julie definitely played a role in helping to kinda take some of the things he was talking about and turning it into stuff that was useful for us. But, we were also on the digital side. We had a lot of leeway to, okay well here's the messaging Bernie wants to talk about. And, you know, how can we apply this to a digital lens. But, yeah like, Bernie was always someone who you wanted to make sure that it was something he was comfortable with. Which happens a lot in politics, I would say. It's like the Trump campaign, can't speak to it now, but I would say like, Trump's campaign and our campaign were similar in that. There was a lot more leeway and stuff. People had their own autonomy and actually I think that works better for digital marketing. Where as with Hillary's campaign in 2016 there was like 20 people signing off each week. So, there was. You know, as digital marketing director, I was able to do, you know get a budget signed off. I was able to do pretty much what I wanted with it, which was a great experience, having not had that before. But, there was one time when we ended up getting a little too close to Bernie's rule, which was – don't attack Hillary Clinton. Some of our ads we were running in New Hampshire, they were, um. There was a reporter who asked Bernie, like what about this ad, where you are criticizing Hillary Clinton? And when Bernie heard of it, he was very upset. Like, he was called out on that. Understandably. And so from that moment on I had to clear all the ad critique with research. That was a generally easy loop to go through.
John Parr [00:10:15]: You know, one thing I'd be curious about is in 2016, there was just this massive grass-roots movement behind Bernie Sanders. What did you guys do, as part of the team, to sort of wrangle that? How does that work?
Keegan Goudiss [00:10:29]: So, there's different schools of thought on this. Everyone you talk to has different perspectives, but mine is that the chaos in the beginning of us trying to build the plane, actually helped fuel that grass-roots growth, because there was, there was not really enough of an operation or place to harness it, so people went and started their own things. You know, like people for Bernie. There were hundreds of Facebook groups that popped up, that people were supporting Bernie, and the community. That to me was one of the like, the strength of the campaign. But, I'm someone who advocates decentralized organizing. There certainly are main stream for top down marketing approaches, but to me, like if you can inspire people to do their own work, that's the smartest marketing approach. And I actually feel that Bernie's campaign did that really well in 2015, entirely by accident.
Kevin O'Connor [00:11:22]: Can you tell us a little bit about your specific ad placements? Was it just Google ads, Facebook? Did you use a lot of third party stuff in 2016?
Keegan Goudiss [00:11:37]: Yeah, we like to experiment a lot. Most of the advertising that we did, with the exception of Iowa and New Hampshire, was trying to build a sperrna program. So, that everything was viewed at, under the lens of what the return on ad spend was. You know, we experimented with a lot of different vendors. We had our own programmatic abilities in house with our own training desk at the time. But, a lot of it being heavily on Facebook and Google, obliviously that's the case with most other performance marketing operations. And we were lucky that they don't do this anymore, because of Russia, but we had a lot of support from Facebook making sure our spend with them was optimized.
Kevin O'Connor [00:12:29]: So was it, in the end were your KPI was just about fundraising, or were there other engagement metrics that your guys followed?
Keegan Goudiss [00:12:35]: So, on the fundraising side, it was a combination of, like on top of the funnel, like cost per acquisition, cost per conversion, per certain actions. I would say a large majority was focused on what the return on ad spend was. Yeah, we tracked those for several months. So, you know, we had certain options that were working well on the short term, but in the long term kinda fizzled out. And then we had other placements that we made that were much stronger over the long term as they engaged with the program. Building his list was generally a high priority, but making sure we were building lists with people that took actions was quite a bit for that. We also did, early on, we used advertising to help build the events. But, there was, except for one moment in Seattle, there was, after Wisconsin in the summer of 2015, they didn't need any ads to build the events anymore. The reputation was enough to suffice filling arenas. But, there was one time in, it was the spring of 2016, I think, it was during a rally at a baseball stadium. See, I can't remember the name right now. But, they were all like – oh shoot, we might not be able to fill this. So, we had to spend a bunch of money quickly to fill the stadium, to make sure it looked good. Because, you know, with politics optics is everything, so.
John Paar [00:14:06]: Oh God, yeah.
Kevin O'Connor [00:14:07]: Yeah, I think I actually remember that rally being a huge deal when they showed the stadium filled.
Keegan Goudiss [00:14:15]: Yep, yeah, so we had advertising to help with that one there. Sorry for the spilling out there.
Kevin O'Connor [00:14:20]: This is what people need to know.
Keegan Goudiss [00:14:23]: That's right. Well, you know, it's like advertising is sometimes looked at as a dirty thing in politics. Obviously, I'm biased, but what we're doing is making sure that people we know, or that we think would like to see this are seeing this. There's a lot of noise online. Email doesn't always get through. So, you know email was a big driver of event attendance for Bernie. Because, we had big lists, and we would target that partner, your radius ran out as code and we'd get a lot of RSVPs from that. But. Like, not everyone looks at their email, so. To me, being able to pay to make sure that they see that that message is important, but some don't look at it that way.
Kevin O'Connor [00:15:00]: Well, this will be picked up by conspiracy theorists to say that there are paid actors now, at the rally.
Keegan Goudiss [00:15:08]: No, no paid actors. We didn't pay for the bird to land while at the rally.
John Parr [00:15:11]: For sure, for sure. So, one thing I'd be curious about is, obviously and especially in today's age, right, the turn around time responding to current events. Especially for political campaigns, is faster than ever. What kind of turn around times were you guys looking at with certain events? And, you know, aside from the stadium, do you have any other examples of those?
Keegan Goudiss [00:15:38]: Yeah, with the stadium, it was a couple days out. There was a panic. I was like, we may not actually be able to fill the stadium. And what can we do? But, there were times when it was hours. I was talking about, the bird landed on his podium, and that was another famous moment during the campaign. And one person in the office, I think it was Tim, but I could be mis-remembering, had this idea – well, let's make stickers. How quickly can we make sure that our printer, our filament vendor can get this out quickly? How soon can the designer make the design on the sticker? How soon can we get ads up? That raised like a couple million dollars over the coarse of a day. Due in part to ads, you know, it took off organically, too. But, that adds up, as well.
John Parr [00:16:36]: Because your, our industry is so new, you didn't really have a ton of experience to do stuff like this, this quickly, right? Before Bernie 2016?
Keegan Goudiss [00:16:46]: We were flying by the seat of our pants. But, I was really lucky that I had a lot of talented people that I worked with and, like with. They don't allow political ads anymore, so we can't do this anymore, but Twitter, they had a team that was able to help us with making sure that we were optimizing the spend and being able to spend quick and fast as possible. We had background during the spur of their campaigns. You know, there had been similar work that we'd done. But, never really at this scale. That can be really daunting.
Kevin O'Connor [00:17:20]: Yeah, I bet. Well, I mean, you've mentioned it a couple times now. Let's talk about the difference between 2016 and now that basically political ads have been banned across those major platforms. What is the, I guess, landscape look like for someone in your position for these two campaigns?
Keegan Goudiss [00:17:42]: Yep, yeah, we've pretty much gone from birds to flies in like four years.
John Parr [00:17:50]: What creature is going to be next?
Keegan Goudiss [00:17:54]: I have my money on lizards.
John Parr [00:17:56]: Wise choice.
Keegan Goudiss [00:18:00]: Yeah, no, there's a, in some ways it's quite enjoyable because it creates a whole new challenge. You know there is a, after, you know, once Trump was inaugurated, all of 2017, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Trying to raise money for clients. You know, people are really scared, upset and pissed off. You know, on both sides, people. You know, Trump brought this whole new media environment. And with it a lot of business for people, quite frankly, and it wasn't that hard to tap into it. It was exhausting. And so, yeah. But, I didn't find that as challenging as the 2016 campaign, and in some ways it became monotonous. I look at the silver linings with this, that there is a challenge to figure out new ways to do the advertising programs, because the ways that were working before are just not working as well, or are being outlawed.
John Parr [00:19:05]: So, what's your involvement been in the 2020 electoral?
Keegan Goudiss [00:19:10]: You know, I tried to stay neutral because I had friends both on Bernie and on Elizabeth Warren's campaign. I was going to be happy with neither one, obviously. But, my heart was with Bernie. I had pissed off a number of folks in the inner circle, early on because I had talked to the press about whether or not he should actually run. I was of the mindset that Bernie would have done more for the movement if he hadn't run. And pledge well over camp queen maker. Because I just didn't feel like he could win, and I was happy when I felt like I was maybe getting proven wrong, but then sad again that I wasn't proven wrong. But yeah, it just, unfortunately becoming nominee of the Democratic Party requires some inside politics that Bernie will never be good at, I'm happy he's not good at it. And I was worried he would never be able to succeed in that. And for a little bit, I was, oh I was wrong. But, I should have kept my mouth shut. Things were going really well. Yeah, but like their strategy was public knowledge, like, we're gonna win with a crowded field. That changed very quickly. As you saw.
Kevin O'Connor [00:20:18]: Right. Do you want to lament the pre-super Tuesday actions of a few.
Keegan Goudiss [00:20:26]: Yeah, you know, it was, like I felt like I saw it coming. Having worked really hard and try to do better in South Carolina. In 2016, I could see lots of warning signs that we were heading towards the same sorta trap. I was really proud that they did so well in Nevada. Because, you know, we didn't do as well as they did, in 2020, Nevada. And then, you know when South Carolina happened, I was like, oh shit bag. This is, we've seen this play out before. Everybody who is not Bernie, was waiting for that moment and they talk about it. And, again, like things, there's a saying, I don't remember who coined it, but, “a day of lies is a day in the life of politics” you know. Things change. Things do change overnight, so there's a lot of people, like “Oh my God. I can't believe there's like this conspiracy” and I didn't view as a conspiracy. It was just there were a number of people worried about Bernie being the nominee, and once there was an option to go anti-Bernie, everyone jumped on that one.
Kevin O'Connor [00:21:29]: Yeah, they made their move. It was very Godfather-like.
John Parr [00:21:36]: So, to kind of pull it back here a little bit, and really shed light on the complexity of what you guys were doing. So, obviously, you had this team, putting together this, putting together all this marketing. But, it's not just for the campaign as a whole, right? You had to change this individually state to state. Is that right?
Keegan Goudiss [00:21:57]: Yeah, it's brutal. And anybody who is listening to this that wants to work in Presidential politics on the primary, hopefully you're as lucky as we were to get as far as Bernie did in 2016. And if you are, like, the campaign was really, and 2020 did this much better from my perspective, but, you know. The original theory of change was, if we do well in Iowa and New Hampshire, that will lend credibility to his campaign. Really a lot of the, the non-fundraising marketing and other marketing work that we were doing came down to what my business priority at the time around charity, which was focused on, which was how do we make Bernie look presidential. Because there are people who like Bernie, and like what he is saying, but they don't believe he could ever be president.
Kevin O'Connor [00:22:45]: Right.
Keegan Goudiss [00:22:46]: And, you know, in politics, credibility is like a really critical aspect. You know, like when building political power, if you're not credible, it's pretty much impossible. So, you know, we were trying a lot to make him look credible and part of that was, can we do well maybe in Iowa and New Hampshire, and that will shock the world and change the dynamics of the race. But, there is never really a good enough, at least not in the conversations that I was a part of, and I was a part of a lot of the ones at the top, there didn't seem to be like a good plan for – what happens then? And so, instead, we were conforming to this week-by-week. The one thing that was done very smart, by Mark, Tad and Julie, is they brought us in early on a plan to use Michigan as a way to turn things back around again. And there was a friend of mine who worked on Hillary's campaign, we caught up afterwards and he was bit mad at me. But, he was like asking – you all got advertising really early in Michigan. I was, like, yeah. He was, I knew it. You ruined all my plans. I was like, we worked at it to do really well on this and surprise everybody. And, that worked out well. But, the worst part was, okay, every week there is one or many more elections. What are we doing that week to squeeze out as much as possible? It's organized chaos at its best. So, we did the best we could, but if anybody who's listening to this is planning a career in presidential politics, make sure you are ready for that. For that gauntlet, because it becomes screwy really quick and you have to do a lot every week for the perimeter calendar.
Kevin O'Connor [00:24:27]: Wait. Was your friend made at you, who worked for Hillary Clinton, because you didn't tell him to advertise in Michigan?
Keegan Goudiss [00: 24:35]: No, no he was mad because I criticized his work, probably.
Kevin O'Connor [00:24:39]: That'll do it.
John Parr [00:24:40]: That explains it.
Keegan Goudiss [00:24:45]: A really an important lesson that sometimes it's good, it's better to just pass on your constructive feedback privately than to the press.
John Parr [00:24:50]: Sounds like you've gotten in trouble a couple of times.
Keegan Goudiss [00:24:54]: I have. I have, yeah.
John Parr [00:24:58]: Well, I'm sure it's easy to do. So, one thing I've been curious about. So, on our platform here, Scripted writers are regularly helping our customers who are trying to create content that is getting a leg up on their competitors. Obviously, the political world is completely different. You know these businesses don't have competitors who are yelling into mics every night. So, what does it look like on your end? Are you? What's the approach here to political opponents?
Keegan Goudiss [00:25:33]: You know we, with Bernie, yeah, I can only speak to 2016, really very well on this one. But, it might be a little bit different in 2020, but it was a lot about, let's focus on what are our issues. You know, I was telling you that moment when, when Bernie told us he was going to file the paperwork in three days.
John Parr [00:25:54]: Right.
Keegan Goudiss [00:25:55]: Yeah, he also told us that, and this is a private moment, and I've also got in trouble for relying this moment.
John Parr [00:26:03]: Let's here it.
Keegan Goudiss [00:26:04]: But, he also told us, look I don't think, we all know I'm not going be, we're not gonna. He said, we all know that we're not going to be sitting together at the inauguration in January. It's like, no no, like Bernie. No, you know I like Hillary. She'll do a good job. I'm running because there are people who in this country are hard working Americans who don't believe that the government works for them any more. And, I want to give people hope that there are those of us fighting for hard working Americans, who feel like the money is going to millionaires and billionaires. And nothing is being used to help them. And, I feel like, by that metric, by that KPI, he succeeded wildly. And, obviously at some point, he actually could become president. But, you know like, for the most part, early on, it was about how do we raise the political issues. How do we profile what Bernie is doing, and it turned out that there are even more people than we imagined, early on, that were receptive of his message. There was some conquesting, as I like to call it, later on, where we were trying to pick up soft Hillary supporters, as we got more strategic. At the beginning it was much more about cultivating his brand and his message. And to me, that is really critical in any marketing effort. To be able to differentiate yourself.
John Parr [00:27:35]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:36]: And there's probably some recently elected congress people that can be very thankful for that campaign.
Keegan Goudiss [00:27:45]: Yes, some of them have really big reputations in bands themselves, now.
Kevin O'Connor [00:27:48]: Yeah. It's a whole different world than it was four years ago, for sure. Speaking of, I want to get back to the 2020 election. We're about, when this airs, about a week out form the election. What do you think is going through the minds of the marketing teams for each candidate, right now? How much of these last two weeks are crucial to the outcome, do you think?
Keegan Goudiss [00:28:23]: Well, you know, not to keep bringing it back to 2016, but the final two weeks was critical. Now, actually it probably will be here too. Like I said before, days are a lot of time, and we, you know, this happened in 2016, and it's supposedly happening now, and so I don't necessarily buy it entirely. But, supposedly, on Trump's side most of them are figuring out, what are they going to do next? Now that this is over. But, yeah there are a number of them that thought that four years ago, and it didn't turn out that way. So, I'm sure there are some of them that are hoping that something magical will happen again for them. I would say a speaker. Exactly what's going through the Biden team's head, but I would imagine they are just really looking forward to it being over. It's been a really long time for them and they're exhausted. And want to make sure that whatever final surprises come, they handle as well as possible and can finish this thing strong. But, I would think that a lot of them wishes that the election was today instead of having to wait, when this airs, another week.
Kevin O'Connor [00:29:35]: Yeah, so reports came in that Trump had a pretty soft Q3 fundraising and since this was really your realm, how of an indicator is it that they're spending 77 cents on every dollar as opposed to 2016, where they spent 37 of every dollar raised on re-investing? And, their cash on hand in October is, what, 250 million compared to Biden's 432 million. What do those differences really mean? As far as outcome prediction? If you could correlate the two?
Keegan Goudiss [00:30:16]: Yeah, I mean, he's trimming a long way. We'll see how the next several days go, but it's certainly indicative of, excuse me, of the fact that the operation is not working. And, you know a lot of this, this happened with Bernie, too. Once, once the belief that you can win starts drying up, their smart hour drainage dry up pretty quickly. You know, and they have been running a fairly aggressive, and I would say disingenuous program for a long time and that only works for so long. I mean, there's lots of texts – I'm gonna show your lists to the president of who donated. Are you going to be on it or not? There's a 100% match. I send you some examples later, if you want. But, right there, they go out of their way to manipulate their supporters to squeeze out every last hour. That worked well for them early on, but that runs out of steam and now the president is looking like he's going to lose. And, so it gets harder and harder, and that's why you see, this is the six that you just mentioned.
Kevin O'Connor [00:31:31]: Yes, so they are obviously trying to reach a new base that might not be there, I guess.
Keegan Goudiss [00:31:38]: I think they are just exhausted and tired. And his strategy is hopefully, in my opinion, hopefully, is backfiring. He's exhausted then. And Trump only knows how to keep up ramping up the energy. And I think that they, that he has burnt them out. Yeah, there's going to be several hail Mary's, like the New York Post was one of them. And we'll see what else comes up between when this is recorded and aired, and then. In a week, we are going to see some hail Mary's and then maybe one of them will land. My instinct now is that he's dug the hole too deep. And, there's just too much shit there for him to get room.
Kevin O'Connor [00:32:28]: It feels like more than the New York Post story, it was the response from Twitter and Facebook that kind of galvanized, maybe if anything, his base. What are your thoughts on the way Twitter and facbook handled that story? And I guess really, how they're handling their approach to banning ads now and in the future.
Keegan Goudiss [00:32:54]: Yeah, you know, I don't have a lot of company on this, if any of them left, but I'm of the mindset that Facebook and Google and Twitter should just be hands-off with this stuff. Because, like, to your point. I agree 100%, it wouldn't have such big a deal if they didn't ban people from posting. As soon as you make something forbidden...
Kevin O'Connor [00:33:20]: Yeah. Right.
Keegan Goudiss [00:33:21]: It's pretty clear what's going to happen. I mean, they did them a big favor. They should be making them make a contribution, but for that, you know. To me, it's like obvious, the situation was elevated, extremely, by not allowing people to share it. Yeah, I'm of the mindset that Facebook and Twitter shouldn't be the arbitrators of the truth, but there does need to be something else that exists. You know, like in other countries, you advertise falsely, you can be fined for that. That doesn't exist here. There is no government mechanism to try to reduce false info in advertising.
Kevin O'Connor [00:33:56]: Should there?
Keegan Goudiss [00:34:00]: Yeah. I'm of the mindset that there should be. So if you say something, you can back it up and you should be able to say it without impunity. But, I don't think that they spoke, and Twitter should not be the one deciding what true and what's not. Because that could easily go against us, later on.
Kevin O'Connor [00:34:18]: Yeah.
Keegan Goudiss [00:34:20]: They're cheering it now. And now, like we don't wanna, we don't want them posting lies. But, that could get flipped on us pretty easily. So, to me it's a slippery slope. I actually agree with Mark Zuckerberg, in that, on those kinda times. About it a lot. Yeah, I do think that they need to do a lot more in weeding out artificial engagement. Like, they don't do enough limiting thoughts. And people who are trying to gain the algorithms to push this site or this information or this information. They're not doing enough to combat that. Instead, they're like, well we are just going to decide we'll restrict certain things. And I don't think that heads in a palpable way.
Kevin O'Connor [00:35:04]: It's kind of deceiving, in the policy, too. They are banning new political ads on Facebook. The existing ones are still going to be running, right?
Keegan Goudiss [00:35:12]: Yeah, for a week, but then they are going to, they called Google and they are not having any political ads then. They're not allowing any political ads after the election.
Kevin O'Connor [00:35:24]: There's a school of thought that banning political ads is actually helpful for Trump and the right, on Facebook in particular because of their organic reach is very right. Is, I guess conservative groups have a lot of organic reach on Facebook, right?
Keegan Goudiss [00:35:44]: Yeah. I'm a believer of that school of thought, as well. And, I did have some hope there. Like, recently I saw that actually exceeded engagement of Twitter. For the first time.
Kevin O'Connor [00:35:56]: Really?
Keegan Goudiss [00:35:56]: Yeah, @beattrump. We'll see if that was just a blip or just a recent trend. But, maybe it's something. Back to the previous discussion, that. Kinda the wells ran dry for Trump, and people are sick of him. So, that benefits Biden, because people might want him more. And obviously, some of that is negative engagement, or a lot of it maybe. But, still. Him being talked about on Twitter is a big deal.
John Parr [00:36:23]: So, what do you think the future looks like from here. As far as the interplay between politics and social media? As far as you can predict?
Keegan Goudiss [00:36:32]: You know, organic is much more important than it was before. You know, we've always looked at it, and I think that we missed out on that. Well, we have, we can use advertising to amplify our efforts. The right build for this massive information machine. And like this huge network of media outlets that are helping push organic engagement. And I think we looked at it the wrong way. The silver lining instead of bans, and things that are going to continue, and this forces us to get better at that as well. I just started advising a company called Speachify. And they offer a platform for driving more social engagement using AI to help us, as activists, in writing their perks. So, to me, like the big opportunity there is now, on the advertising front a lot of crooks in politics will have to go underground and find a way to advertise. Because it seems as though the trend is just going to keep growing. That commercial marketing will have access to things that political marketing won't.
John Parr [00:37:40]: Um hm.
Kein O'Connor [00:37:40]: Right.
Keegan Goudiss [00:37:40]: And that makes me sad. To be clear. I just spent four years of my life working in this space and it feels as though it's being ripped away from me. But, I don't, you know, you make the best of what you can.
John Parr [00:37:53]: For sure.
Kevin O'Connor [00:37:54]: Do you want to, I mean, I don't want to keep you too long. Do you want to tell us what you're working on now? With 1215.co?
Keegan Goudiss [00:38:00]: Yes, I'm. You know, I had taken some time off with Code Resolution Messaging in 2019, and I was taking some time off. To figure out what I wanted to do. I was talking to some folks about what I wanted to do. From starting a new agency, joining another agency. And then covid hit, and threw everything upside down. And I was, all of a sudden, had to find time to help my three elementary school aged children. Helping adjust to a new way of learning and get myself adjusted. Learning to help with first grade math. Which I found quite challenging. And, yeah, it was like I can't start something new. I'm of the mind, if I'm going to do something, I'd rather give it my all, instead of, you know. Starting a brand new company, or building a new software platform or something. I just don't have time for giving it my all. And, my family already suffered greatly with me being absent during campaigns. I just couldn't, didn't want to repeat that again. So, I talked to my wife and we were like, well, here's what I know, here's what you know. So, let's just do some part time consulting together. She has an accounting background, more familiar with back-office operations than I am. And I understand, have background in marketing advertising and in business growth and sales. So, we put these skills together and called it 1215. That is a way for us to figure out a way to navigate our own changes. And I'm doing that right now through a very un-sexy product called Audit. I feel like a tax adjuster, at times. But, there are a lot of people out there who are looking for advice. And I have a lot of experience and my wife had a lot of experience, with things that are useful for how they are looking at growing their operations. Whether it's for profit or non-profit. I would say that most of my focus is on the fundraising side. Like how we are helping them. How are non-profits doing in their digital fundraising. How political campaigns and other agencies are advising their advertising operations around fundraising, and helping them optimize that.
Kevin O'Connor [00:40:15]: Very cool.
Keegan Goudiss [00:4015]: There is, you mentioned before, where another thing I started back in the red days, is create a majority path, and we're launching a thing on that. Today, actually, which is how many Trumpjets.com. And, that is a project I've been thinking about for a while. Which is running a dynamic ad, where the countdown is. How many days left to go and how many people have, unfortunately, died because of covid in the US. To me, Trump is going to do whatever he can to distract from that. In the final two weeks, and I think that we just have to remember, going into the new election that there are a lot of reasons not to support Trump, but one of the biggest ones is that he virtually mishandled the pandemic and that things would be a lot better right now if we were listening to scientists and people who have experience in general.
John Parr [00:41:08]: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Kevin O'Connor [00:41:10]: Yeah, and you can find more information about creative majority at creativemajoritypact.com.
Keegan Goudiss [00:41:17]: Yep, and at howmanytrumpjets.com, is our new project.
Kevin O'Connor [00:41:24]: Howmanytrumpjets.com? That is not subtle.
Keegan Goudiss [00:41:24]: Yeah, we're just hitting it right over the head on that one. I don't mean to end it on a depressing note. But, that's unfortunately, the reality of our times.
Kevin O'Connor [00:41:36]: Well John. John, do you have any more questions for Keegan?
John Parr [00:41:37]: Uh, no. No, not right now. This was amazing.
Kevin O'Connor [00:41:42]: Keegan, I have one question. I have one more question. What's your prediction?
Keegan Goudiss [00:41:50]: There we go. There we go. I'll tell you my hope, is that we have a democratic senator in the house, and I'm a little wary. In 2016, I was one of the people who was like, aahh I saw the warning signs, but I didn't want to be like the naysayer, because I already pissed off so many criticizing Hillary, post election. So, I'm going to be like, the public, jump right in. But, yeah, never say never. But, yeah, it's that, if I had to put my money on it, I'd say that there is going to be a big, a big win for the democrats. I hope I'm right.
John Parr [00:42:32]: Alright. Thank you so much for your time, Keegan. We hope you come back and visit us again. We'd appreciate it.
Keegan Goudiss [00:43:37]: Yeah. I look forward to it. Thank you John and Kevin.
Kevin O'Connor [00:42:40]: Thank you.
Kevin O'Connor [00:42:52]: All right. It was great to hear from Keegan. Someone who was on the front lines, who made your presidential campaign.
John Parr [00:42:58]: Yeah.
Kevin O'Connor [00:42:59]: And to hear what that experience is like.
John Parr [00:43:00]: Yeah, absolutely. Like, that's, I can't even imagine the amount of stress you would have in that kind of position. You know, he was talking about how he hasn't, he didn't really sleep during that time. And I feel like even that is a bit of an understatement. Like, just the pressure.
Kevin O'Connor [00:43:18]: Yeah. I'm sure. I like the way he put it – building the plane in the air.
John Parr [00:43:19]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:43:20]: I have to imagine what it's like for anyone working on these campaigns. Especially in the modern era.
John Parr [00:43:29]: Yeah.
Kevin O'Connor [00:43:31]: Like, how do you react quickly and strategically to a never ending stream of news?
John Parr [00:43:35]: Well, was there anything there that you were surprised by? Like, was there anything in particular that struck you as being even more extreme than you would have expected from a political campaign?
Kevin O'Connor [00:43:46]: The turn around time. When he was kind of given a directive from the campaign, right, he said that they needed to fill that stadium in Seattle, in like the next 48 hours. He had to target ads to a certain time. To certain zip codes.
John Parr [00:44:04]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:44:05]: To get that stadium in Seattle filled, right? That's a crazy request. To fill a whole stadium. In two days.
John Parr [00:44:09]: It is.
Kevin O'Connor [00:44:10]: I'm sure there was a lot of people already going, but I don't think as marketers, generally, you get that kind of request.
John Parr [00:44:20]: And let me take this second to say, to our freelance writers, your deadlines aren't that bad, right? They're not that bad.
Kevin O'Connor [00:44:26]: Exactly. Put it in perspective.
John Parr [00:44:46]: They could be worse. We're not asking you to fill stadiums.
Kevin O'Connor [00:44:48]: It's with a political campaign, you're seems. It seems like you have to be prepared for anything. And being able to change directions on a dime. And, with a huge budget. Like, a presidential campaign budget. Where it's like, okay, spend this hundred thousand dollars in the next 48 hours. And, make sure that there is a good return on it.
John Parr [00:44:49]: Yeah, I was almost ready to ask him what that's like. What does it feel like welding that kind of budget? And just being like, I guess it' a little – the sky is the limit – but, then there is also weirdness that gets into...like those things are managed much differently, right? Like, those funds are essentially, like I think, especially with Bernie, a lot of them were donated, right?
Kevin O'Connor [00:45:14]: Yeah, and there is very specific rules on how they can be spent.
John Parr [00:45:17]: Right. Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:45:21]: And there is a long history of digital advertising in politics, because, well politics is usually behind on this kind of thing, and digital advertising hasn't been around that long.
John Parr [00:45:32]: Right, right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:45:32]: You know what I mean? So, combining those two worlds is fairly new. Especially in 2016.
John Parr [00:45:38]: Well said. So, do you think like, it could be to a certain degree, the way that political campaigns are being run, and say like, more steps moving forward in digital marketing are essentially growing together? In the same time period? Like, do you think there were changes that accursed as a result of things that have happened in 2016? like, we got a little a...
Kevin O'Connor [00:45:59]: Oh, one hundred percent!
John Parr [00:46:00]: Yeah, we had Keegan talk on that, but I'd be curious about your perspective, as well.
Kevin O'Connor [00:46:05]: Well, yeah so, Twitter banned political ads completely. Facebook is doing a post-conversition of that, where they are banning new political ads a week before the election. And after, until they have decided. And Google is doing the same. But, yeah, I think that brings up a great point about the influence of social media in our politics.
John Parr [00:46:30]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:46:30]: I think we can all agree we don't like how much influence these platforms have on our elections and we would love it if they were able to stop the spread of misinformation. But,thus far they have done a terrible job.
John Parr [00:46:43]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:46:45]: And as Keegan pointed out, their attempts to rectify the issue can have a reverse effect.
John Parr [00:46:51]: Yeah. Yeah, I mean he expressed his opinion on it and honestly, it made me realize that I'm not even really sure where I stand stand on what the best move is there. But, the one thing for me, so like I'm 35, this isn't my first rodeo, but there is a marked difference. You know what I mean? Like, the political landscape, in the way that it feels. I think Keegan talked about this as well. You know, it used be election season, and it's like, election year. Or like the second election year at this point. You know, where...
Kevin O'Connor [00:47:27]: This 24 hour news era we live in, which is never stops being election...
John Parr [00:47:32]: Directly filters into and often from social media. And then, you know, you got things like campaigns that are being run grass-roots, are also creating some of this. There is just this huge amount of information. And, you know, while it's...
Kevin O'Connor [00:47:48]: And misinformation.
John Parr [00:47:49]: And misinformation. Right. While there's often this idea, that, you know, say campaigns are creating or crafting a narrative, that isn't an inherently bad thing, of course. You know, every campaign, not just political campaigns. In terms of marketing or trying to create a narrative. But, yeah, it;s a little strange when, you know, everyone has the same size soap box. You know?
Kevin O'Connor [00:48:17]: Yeah, well the fact is, is that none of these platforms, whether it's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or even 24 hour news networks, were designed to proliferate truth or do a public service.
John Parr [00:48:30]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:48:30]: They were designed to increase engagement and they make money through advertising. And they've done that through algorithms that encourage more and more extreme content.
John Par [00:48:38]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:48:38]: That's how they get more and more engagement. They are basically, thye became these arbitrators of truth, whether we like it or not. Whether they like it or not.
John Parr [0048:48]: Yeah.
Kevin O'Connor [00:48:48]: And that's really not what they were meant to be. And so these patchwork solutions are either naively inadequate, at best, and at worst, they are intentionally inadequate. And they are just not doing enough to get people off their backs, right?
John Parr [00:49:04]: So, we asked this to Keegan too, but I'd like to get your thoughts on it. At least, my kind of thought on this is, what do you think the future is like? You know, is this sustainable in this current state? I imagine it isn't.
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:20]: No. I mean, this is what the debate comes down to, I think, is, do we regulate these companies?
John Parr [00:49:25]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:25]: Or do we continue to let them regulate themselves and decide where to draw the line?
John Parr [00:49:28]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:28]: I mean, my opinion is, they need regulation. I don't want Mark Zuckerberg deciding what is and isn't news, or is or isn't truth.
John Parr [00:49:38]: Right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:38]: I don't think that is his place and he has said as much. And now, they are just kind of doing, like PR work, pretty much, is what it feels like. It's not policy.
John Parr [00:49:47]: Right, right.
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:47]: But, yeah, it's tough.
John Parr [00:49:52]: It is,
Kevin O'Connor [00:49:52]: It's not like a simple solution, but there definitely needs to be some kind of improvement, going forward. Because, I mean 2016 was kind of a disaster on the end of these companies, and it hasn't really been improved.
John Parr [00:50:11]: No, no. You know, this whole thing is just another sot of by-product of a, this ridiculous invention we call the internet, at this point. It's been a continuing spiral. But, one thing that is not a continuing spiral is, we'd really love it if you listened to this podcast, to head over to iTunes, I think. Is that what they are calling it these days?
Kevin O'Connor [00:50:33]: The iTunes.
John Parr [00:50:33]: The iTunes. Head over to the iTunes and give us a like. And, is that what we need?
Kevin O'Connor [00:50:43]: A like, a share.
John Parr [00:50:46]: A share?
Kevin O'Connor [00:50:46]: A subscription, I believe.
John Parr [00:50:47]: Is that what it is?
Kevin O'Connor [00:50:47]: Yeah, yeah. Subscribe.
John Parr [00:50:52]: Please, head over to iTunes. Subscribe. Is it Apple music?
Kevin O'Connor [00:50:57]: Or Spotify. Yeah, Apple podcast, now, actually. It's actually Apple podcast. We're on Spotify, Anchor, wherever a major podcast could be listened to.
John Parr [00:51:09]: I'm so tempted to keep this disaster for our promo.
Kevin O'Connor [0051:14]: I think you should keep it.
John Parr [00:51:14]: I'm going to keep it. Well, that's all I've got.
Kevin O'Connor [00:51:16]: That's it for this episode. So, let's close out with – if you haven't done so yet, go out there and vote. Vote your heart. Vote your conscious. Or don't. John and I are not your parents. Yeah, my kids don't listen to this show. So, good luck.
John Parr [00:51:32]: Good luck. Vote. If you don't vote, vote for us on iTunes.
Kevin O'Connor [00:51:38]: That's perfect.
John Parr [00:51:39]: See you next time, guys.