Vincent Harris Talks Twitter Ads and Rand Paul

The Hill
July 14, 2015
By David McCabe

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) 2016 presidential campaign uses Twitter’s advertising tools to directly target messages at certain journalists, an aide said Tuesday.

“If something’s breaking and we really need to get it out there, we’ve created a list that we’ve uploaded into Twitter’s ad platform of journalists,” Chief Digital Strategist Vincent Harris said at an event put on by Twitter for political advertisers and operatives.

“I know there’s some journalists in the room. It is not a coincidence,” he said, mentioning a nearby reporter by name, “when you’re seeing Rand Paul’s ads, we are targeting you directly.”

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Vincent Harris is the founder and CEO of Harris Media LLC, the nation’s leading digital public affairs firm

Twitter has a relatively small reach, with just over 300 million active users compared with more than 900 million at Facebook. But its popularity in political circles has made it a potent tool for campaigns to reach out to individuals they view as disproportionately influential.

“We have even created lists of journalists in early primary states, working with the communications team,” Harris said. “And it’s a really good cheap, effective, targeted way to get a piece of content out there in front of people that you want to see it — journalists who are going to help with their megaphone push a piece of content out further.”

That isn’t an an entirely new strategy. President Obama’s reelection campaign viewed Twitter has a way to shape the conversation among political junkies and journalists.

“We had goals for underlying conversions,” Obama 2012 Digital Director Teddy Goff told a researcher last year. “But that is something hard to really know the correct answer too and certainly when it comes to measuring something like ‘have we won the afternoon on Twitter?’ I mean the only thing that we can really go by is your own perception of ‘is this what reporters are talking about or not’ and that is how we did measure it.”

Harris said that “reaching influencers on Twitter is why it’s so powerful.”


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