Cambridge Analytica was fairly effective, according to an executive from a news publisher that piloted a subscription campaign with the company, but the program was dropped because it was more expensive than similar optimization tech companies on the market.
Where Cambridge Analytica found success and longer-term work was in Washington, DC, where it positioned itself as an outside commercial option for Republican candidates losing the narrative on data and technology.
Besides need, the Republicans also presented opportunity. They had fewer vendors compared to the Democratic ecosystem, according to a former Cambridge Analytica executive and a digital media executive who worked closely with the company during the election.
“Republican candidates and committees had frankly been overpaying conservative vendors for a long time because really no competition was allowed,” said one political tech executive who worked closely with Cambridge during the campaign and refused to comment publicly due to a nondisclosure.
Cambridge Analytica’s technology may have been standard market fare, he said, but it was competing with overpriced platforms that had long attached big premiums to conservative media buys based on a vague sense that campaigns should have a more political-first media approach and, mostly, out of partisan loyalty.
“The truth is, Facebook or about any commercial DMP can do that better even if their employees want you to lose,” he said.