Cult Classic Millennial Targeting for Grassley Works

The following case study received a Gold Pollie Award from the American Association of Political Consultants for Best Use of Online Targeting and a Reed Award from Campaigns & Elections for Best Use of Online Targeting for a Statewide Campaign.


As the 2016 election approached, Senator Chuck Grassley enjoyed strong favorability among voter groups across the state of Iowa. Looking to increase his electoral strength, we identified the millennial demographic as one with room to grow heading into November. The campaign was looking for a way to break through the noise during the final few months of the election and reach this demographic with measurable results.


Vertical Strategies partnered with Google to run a brand lift analysis for a targeted campaign to Iowa Millennial voters using an ad starring Ben Stein. In the ad, Mr. Stein reprised his role from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”  The ad — named “Judge?” — was served statewide online to Independent and Republican likely voters ages 18-35 while a control group was omitted from seeing the ad.

The group served the Grassley Works ad was surveyed both before and after the ad was deployed to gain insight on its success. Based on the online targeting, the lift analysis would allow the campaign to measure change in favorability from Millennials as well as their likelihood to vote for Senator Grassley.


Over 10,000 18-35 year old Independents and Republicans were surveyed for their favorability of Senator Grassley and their intent to vote.

  • We saw an overall 3.4% absolute uplift in favorability for Senator Grassley for users shown the ad vs. users that were in our control group. A 22.6% relative uplift.
  • We saw an overall 1.2% absolute uplift in intent to vote for Senator Grassley for users shown the ad vs. users that were in our control group. A 7.5% relative uplift.
  • Users that chose to view the ad were 18.6% more likely to support Senator Grassley than users that just saw an impression.
  • Those in the group who saw 2+ impressions were 24% more likely to vote for Senator Grassley vs. the control group.

The results speak for themselves – this is how you can make a huge impact online when targeting the right message to the right audience.