In the spirit of full disclosure, I have been a member of the Electoral College representing the District of Columbia. Not that I ever cast a vote. My candidate, Ralph Nader, never came close to winning. Still, being inside a presidential campaign and somewhat close to the candidate was an interesting and fun experience. One I highly recommend.
As Americans we hold the office of the presidency in our hands. That has never been as literally true as it in 2016. Our mobile devices play a larger role with each passing day. The battle for hearts and minds has turned into a battle for palms and fingers.
It’s a battle I fight every day at LMO Advertising as we develop marketing strategies and executions for a score of clients. Mobile has transformed the way we communicate and how we interact with prospects.
The political parties like the same things about mobile that all advertisers do:
- It is highly targetable by both geography and affinity
- The cost is relatively inexpensive compared to other media
- It feels more personal
There is one very large drawback. Although smart phones have completely penetrated the 18-29 year old market to the tune of 90%, that’s the market that provides the lowest voter turnout. So mobile is most effective on the demographic least likely to have an impact on the election.
Then again, maybe not. That’s what makes this election so interesting. For every gem of conventional wisdom there is a counterpoint no one expected.
I mean, c’mon, Bernie Sanders, love him or hate him, who expected a septuagenarian socialist from Vermont to compete for the nomination all the way to the convention? Not to mention, who suspected that every Republican frontrunner would stumble as a reality TV star rose. This is not your grandfather’s election.
While this uncertainty may provide heartburn for the stock market and the political class, it’s candy for advertisers. And we haven’t even talked about social media marketing. So let’s.
This may be the Twitter election. What’s really wonderful about that is the Twitter accounts belong to the candidates themselves. So even if subordinates write many of the tweets, they are still coming directly from the candidate. It makes them impossible to dismiss.
There’s also a multiplier effect with Twitter that makes it even more effective. When a candidate tweets, that tweet can be re-tweeted by anybody on Twitter, giving the tweet a third-party endorser. The tweet is no longer from the candidate, it is from your friend. This gives the tweet credibility, power and additional reach. With his high post frequency and colorful language, Donald Trump has earned an estimated $383 million dollars worth of free exposure from social media.
I suspect the most rapt Twitter audience this election season will be the mainstream press. They follow for an entirely different reason. Their intent is to immediately jump on any perceived gaffe or mistake. A single careless comment or image can change the storyline and momentum for days.
This makes it imperative that the nominees follow some rules. The first of which is that their social media must sound authentic. If it doesn’t, the medium loses its power. Any sense of intimacy and connection dissolves. Thus far both Clinton and Trump have done a believable and effective job with their Twitter accounts. But there have been gaffes and there undoubtedly will be more.
It’s also important to feed the beast. Twitter demands variety and velocity. Ignore your Twitter feed at your peril.
So keep a close eye on the “twitterverse” this presidential campaign. It should resemble the Wild West, with one caveat: the Wild West was probably much tamer.
The hidden persuader in 2016 is Internet search. All campaigns will be buying copious amounts of paid search and commanding a phalanx of search engine optimization developers.
It’s odd when you think about it because Google, Yahoo! and Bing are supposed to be agnostic. The reality is: they’re not, and they will have a huge, or should I say “yuge,” affect on this election. My advertising brethren poisoned the well long ago. Dollars have bludgeoned search logarithms to death. Your search will go to the highest bidder.
Then there is the issue of the search engines themselves. These are large corporations with billions of dollars at stake, do we really believe they will be neutral? It has already proved problematic.
With all these questions in play, you can be sure that good old fashion television advertising will still demand its pound of flesh. It took a nearly two billion-dollar bite out of the 2012 candidates. That number will not go down.
Although both sides will complain about negative ads, neither side will stop. In fact, the safest bet this campaign season is that the negative ads will hit a historic high and the tenor of the charges the candidates make against each other will hit a historic low.
There is actually a very good reason this will happen. Trashing your opponent works. As much as folks say they are turned off by negative ads, they respond to them. So buckle up.
At LMO we don’t do political advertising. For us it’s a spectator sport. But it serves as a reminder of the power of our business. Estimates are that over eleven billion dollars will be spent before November 8. It will be spread across all media platforms. The other morning, I saw my neighbor putting up yard sign with a candidate’s name splashed across it. And I smiled.