It’s hard to let a presidential election year go by without talking politics.
Don’t worry this isn’t about voting or the candidates – even though, you should vote. More importantly, this is about the marketing strategies and tactics campaigns are deploying.
In a year where the country faces a global pandemic, social distancing, and a tense election, digital has become an even larger part of the epicenter in reaching potential voters. Even our video games aren’t safe – Animal Crossing anyone?
In fact, Vox estimates that digital political advertising would reach more than $7 billion in 2020, which is more than double what was spent four years ago.
Although, Facebook continues to be a tool deployed by campaigns, candidates and their staff are also getting creative in how they reach out and engage voters in 2020. But the question is, our voters really listening?
Hello … is it me you’re looking for?
Mobile has become a key component of campaigns’ strategies, specifically where you are and what you’re doing on the phone.
• The Wall Street Journal recently explained online data brokers and companies are gathering voters’ information – while in a specific location or place and with an app with location permissions. This opens the gateway to see what apps you use, where you live and work, and so forth.
• The Los Angeles Times cites that connecting to public WiFi, downloading a new app or game can provide these brokers the information they need on where you are, who you are. It can also ping or identify other devise such as computers, tablets, etc.
• There’s also geo-fencing. While attending a rally or political event, which could allow a campaign to push ads or messages to every device in the vicinity of the event. From there, they’re able to rinse and repeat as above, track your whereabouts, who you are and what apps you use.
You get the gist.
That’s not to say, it’s the only way campaigns are reaching out.
President Barack Obama tweeted earlier this month to text a specific number to engage with him as well as to get updates and thoughts directly from him. Actress Kerry Washington shared a similar message.
All right, let's try something new. If you’re in the United States, send me a text at 773-365-9687 — I want to hear how you're doing, what's on your mind, and how you're planning on voting this year.
I'll be in touch from time to time to share what's on my mind, too. pic.twitter.com/NX91bSqbtG
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 23, 2020
The former president wasn’t handing out his actual phone number. Instead, as identified by CNN, President Obama was leveraging a platform known as Community.com. The platform cites “pairing the simplicity of a text message with the scale of a social network.”
Although we don’t know – currently – how many have taken the President up on his offer, CNN cites it’s a way to connect with voters and probably advocate for them to vote in November.
Back to the Social Game
Of course, mobile isn’t the only means of reaching voters.
As previously mentioned, social media has become a huge factor for campaigns, especially in a socially distant environment.
Both presidential candidates – Donald Trump and Joe Biden – have each spent more than $5 million on Facebook ads as of early September, according to Bloomberg.
Several have pointed to social media ads, and the level of microtargeting of those respective ads, as a part of the success for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. In fact, one of the tools that helped President Trump win via Facebook is now the same technology being used by those who oppose him.
They’re also investing in Google, YouTube, and digital streaming such as Hulu and Pandora.
However, it seems that several voters have hit a new breaking point.
No More Politics – on Social Media
In 2016, approximately a week before the election, the Pew Center for Research highlighted more than one-third of social media users were “worn out” from the amount of political content they encounter. Fast forward to August 2020, and Pew Research found 55 percent of adult social media users feel “worn out” with more time to go until the election.
In addition, a Gallup Poll earlier this year found 72% of Americans would prefer to not have information disclosed to campaigns for the purposes of micro-targeting. Further, one in five prefer that only general demographics be made available such as gender, zip code and age.
With all that being factored in, what should campaigns and digital companies do. Several companies, including TikTok, Spotify and Twitter, do not allow for political advertising, according to Vox.
Meanwhile, Facebook and Google have placed several restrictions on ad targeting as well as political advertising.
There doesn’t seem to be a clear defined rule or regulation coming down the pipeline anytime soon, but one thing I’m sure of is I’m sure many can’t wait for the current presidential election to be over – as well as their respective ads.