's Trump Card

AOL Mail
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President Barack Obama proved the power of email marketing and fundraising in his two election wins. is proving that its email addresses are gold when it comes to campaigns in 2016.

New data show that somebody with an email address is worth a lot more money to a presidential campaign, more so than any other domain out there.

Gmail? Not even close.

The data come from Fluent, a leading consumer marketing and advertising technology firm. The company provides services to many political campaigns, including several of the top 2016 presidential candidates. The sample of data is based on millions of email subscribers acquired by Fluent for the campaigns in the two-month period between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2015.

(That "other" category includes hundreds of other email domains, including notables like,,,, and No single domain in the other category represented more than 1 percent of total accounts.)

The data clearly show that AOL accounts represent a tiny fraction of overall addresses — just 4 percent. But these people are much more likely to give money, and a lot of it, when they do. AOL emails represent 22 percent of all money brought in, with an average donation of $159.

Gmail addresses, used by almost half the population, barely bring in 13 percent of overall money, with a slender $31 per person donation.

"When we encounter an AOL address, it's gold," said Jordan Cohen, Fluent's CMO. "When somebody registers with an AOL address on a website that's powered by Fluent, we are more likely to serve them an ad for a political campaign than some other type of product or service being advertised on our network, like grocery coupons or buying a car. It's one factor among many in what the algorithm decides what ad you see."

"It's safe to infer that people with AOL addresses donate more money than any other email domain because they tend to be older Americans," he added. Campaigns can use this information accordingly. "Maybe you ask an AOL user for a $30 or $40 donation, but from a Gmail user you might only ask $1 or $2."

The data below show that donations are heavily aligned to age. A full 83 percent of all donations come from people over 50, and that includes the 58 percent coming from people over 60.

While donors might be older and using AOL accounts, they are still tech savvy. Almost half (47 percent) of all money came from mobile devices. That's a huge number for mobile, given that Black Friday sales were dominated by desktop by a 2 to 1 ratio, according to IBM.

"One of the greatest myths is that young people don't use email," Cohen said. "In college, the first thing that happens is you get an email address. It's the same thing in the business world. It's a digital ID that sticks with you. Everybody ends up getting email."

Even if certain domains don't donate as much money to campaigns, that's not the entire point. It's still important for campaigns to beef up the size of their list, being a low-cost way of marketing and the only kind for which people voluntarily sign up.

Cohen said there is value in simply getting a message across, even in unopened emails that can get a candidate's name in somebody's inbox. At the end of the day, it's still about votes.