Although this lecture is a few months old, it's a new-to-me find via the Stanford itunes library: Googler-turned-Obama campaign man Dan Siroker gets into the weeds on the data analytics that made Obama '08 such an online juggernaut.
(It's an hour-long lecture that might take a little while to pull. The mp4 is 188 mb.)
It's certainly not news that the Obama campaign is chock-a-block with lessons for new media campaigners, but Siroker gets beyond the pat takeaways -- and is actually careful to downplay the degree to which one can generalize "lessons" -- and really exposes some of the methodology used in optimization, all the way down to the specific ROI figures on different mailing and conversion tests. He gives a great template for any organization that has to approach these sorts of challenges ... and that's any organization at all. Even without a fistful of different recruitment videos to test and a multimillion-dollar budget, one can crib from Siroker to think systematically about end goals and what strategies might be tried to reach them.
What I think might be particularly noteworthy are the number of areas that come up in the Q&A section where there simply weren't tests executed, or there were things tried that went awry, or there were opportunities for evaluation that slipped away in the day-to-day pressure of an election. It's somehow heartening to know that even the Obama fundraising machine shares that frustrating "never time to do it right" experience that shoestring e-campaigners everywhere are familiar with ... and it hints at the magnitude of evolution the tools and techniques figure to undergo in the two-plus years before the next presidential election cycle hits.