After the departure of New York’s scandal-plagued Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, the New York City Public Advocate and the first African American woman elected citywide, Letitia James, was an early frontrunner for the post until other high-profile progressives joined the race. Voters were faced with a choice between James, a well known progressive reformer, and the state’s first openly gay member of Congress.

To fend off the heavy spending of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and the people-powered candidacy of Zephyr Teachout, James needed to reach critical segments of the primary electorate during the late summer. She needed a cost-efficient way to connect with core voters: African Americans, Latinx, and white progressive urban women, to retain her lead and make history as the first African American woman to ever win a statewide office in New York.

The campaign knew it needed to activate these core groups to rise above her opponents. To reach them more effectively, DSPolitical worked with the campaign to target African Americans statewide while also focusing on white women in NYC and Long Island. The campaign’s media team developed a series of videos optimized for the target audiences that were rotated frequently to stay fresh. To maximize reach and impact, DSPolitical developed a primarily programmatic digital plan including social platforms, programmatic native advertising — shown by our studies and experience to have even greater engagement than standard display advertising — and select direct buys from YouTube and Pandora to provide additional reach. To maximize effectiveness, we also filtered out audience members modeled to have low daily internet use, as we’ve seen a less persuasive impact from this segment.

By targeting high-impact audience segments, and ensuring the electorate would find James’ engaging messages everywhere they went online, DSPolitical helped drive historic turnout levels that were on par with presidential election years. This creative focused strategy helped Letitia James become the first African American woman elected Attorney General in New York history, winning more than 40% of the vote in a crowded field of high-profile progressives.

DSPolitical’s work for this client won the 2018 Reed Award for Best Online Targeting for a Statewide Campaign.