It’s Time for Hawkfish to Take a Bow

4 min readMay 7, 2021


After an election cycle unlike any other, we’re beginning the process of winding down our work and want to take a moment to highlight the impact our efforts have had.

In the 2020 cycle, Hawkfish bought more than $150 million in media on behalf of our clients, created and trafficked nearly 200,000 ad variations, and generated more than 9 billion impressions — that’s ‘billion’ with a B!

Hawkfish pursued this mission with some of the smartest folks in political tech — an incredibly talented team that used their diverse experiences to make an impact on the most important election of our lifetimes. Here are just some of the innovations and successes they helped deliver:

  • Saving 32% on ad spend using machine learning. Hawkfish’s ML team trained our algorithms to make more efficient ad buys by continually looking for optimal media buying strategies. We ran more than 16,000 experiment cycles that helped our clients increase the efficiency of their ad buys — in some cases saving more than 30 cents on every $1.00 spent.
  • Innovating a new way to measure the impact of digital media. Our proprietary Looking Glass measurement product gave clients a real-time understanding of how their ads were performing online. This tool took the guesswork out of which messages were resonating with which audiences — enabling optimizations on every dollar spent. With one client, this capability helped us achieve more than 3% lift in candidate support by refining message and audience targeting by identifying the most persuasive content and platforms early in a campaign.
  • Using state of the art computer vision and machine learning technologies to create more effective ads with our Ad Analyzer tool. Creative pre-testing is often used to identify the best ad concepts before putting advertising dollars behind the spots that work — an expensive weeding out process. We took a different approach. Hawkfish collaborated with Realeyes on a tool that tracks attention and emotional response throughout a spot. These second-by-second readings identified the most powerful moments in an ad and isolated those that didn’t work — empowering our clients to improve the performance of almost any spot. With one client, Way to Win, this helped identify edits that led to an 18% increase in video completion rates and a nearly 3% lift in the intent to vote.
  • Tracking the pandemic’s effect on media persuasiveness. Hawkfish’s team of data scientists and economists developed a proprietary model that allowed our clients to optimize their media spend based on the severity of the pandemic’s effects across a given geography. This helped our ad operations team optimize buys to be more efficient in a rapidly changing environment. One client used this model to optimize their audience targeting, which on its own generated a more than 5-point swing in vote intent and a nearly 7-point swing in favorability.
  • Coining the term “Red Mirage.” After diving into early voter survey data, Hawkfish raised awareness of how the slow and uneven counting of mail ballots in 2020 could shape election narratives in the lead-up to November 3. This helped prepare pundits and operatives alike to survive a period of post-election uncertainty, and generated more than 2,000 mentions in national and international press.
  • Creating one of the largest micro-influencer campaigns in Georgia political history. Our social team worked with Progress Georgia to leverage a diverse network of local influencers to promote authentic messages around vote by mail and early voting. In the oversaturated media environment of the GA SEN runoff, these organic social efforts delivered personal, engaging appeals to more than 1.9 million followers from content creators who were 85% people of color.
  • Proving the effectiveness of digital GOTV with award-winning new tactics. Working with our partners, we helped design a digital get-out-the-vote program that turned out 80,000 more incremental voters in two presidential battlegrounds. As part of this effort, we ran a randomized control trial that showed digital programs can be cost effective at reaching and turning out young voters and voters of color — increasing incremental turnout by 5% and earning an award from the Analyst Institute along with our clients.
  • Partnering with a leading public health institution on a social media strategy to inform the public and enrich discussions about covid. As the pandemic took hold in the US, Hawkfish worked with world-renowned public health experts to get important information in front of the right audiences. Using culturally-relevant content and channel-specific executions, our team helped increase the reach of these critical public health messages and boosted engagement by more than 180%, far outpacing other public health institutions.
  • Launching the More Data newsletter, chronicling the latest tactics and trends shaping the political and tech ecosystems. What started as an internal tipsheet quickly gained thousands of subscribers, delivering actionable insights to political operatives and decisionmakers 3x a week.

There’s never been a more exciting time to work at the intersection of politics and tech. So while Hawkfish may be ending its run, Hawkfishers are more committed than ever to keep making a difference. If you’re looking for the next great addition to your team, email to connect with some incredibly talented people who are ready to help solve your next challenge.




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