In a tense political season, voters are continually looking for confirmation that their candidate of choice has a stronger value proposition than the competitors. Although traditional media, such as TV and newspaper ads, are critical to the election cycle, voters often believe these sources provide limited information about a candidate’s stance on specific issues and policies. Today’s tech-savvy voters are actively researching candidates online to gain a more complete picture of the facts, and marketers who embrace digital media may win a key advantage in future election cycles.
TV and Digital Media Both Influence Ballots
Voter behavior has drastically changed in recent election cycles, but marketers can easily overlook the trend by heavily focusing on the starting and ending points of a voter’s decision. During the 2016 election season, the Video Advertising Bureau reported that TV had the greatest impact on ballots, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or party affiliation. In the self-reported study, 80 percent of voters agreed that political ads were most likely to get their attention, compared to 53 percent for Internet ads and 11 percent for email ads. However, 44 percent of voters also said they searched online after viewing political ads on TV.
Research shows that consumers spend nearly two hours online for each hour spent viewing TV, and voters perform roughly 60 percent of election-related searches on mobile devices. A 20- to 60-second TV ad doesn’t directly motivate a voting decision, but it does inspire voters to look for answers to their most pressing questions. With mobile technology readily available, consumers turn to smartphones and tablets to learn about candidates and interact with party affiliates in real time. For marketers, this engagement creates a wide variety of touchpoints to connect with voters and even sway their opinions.
Voters Value Multichannel Campaign Marketing
Political TV ads tend to have a negative spin, driving voters to seek less biased information from a wide variety of sources. Consumers are accustomed to interacting with online communities and piecing together disparate views to understand the pros and cons of an argument, so they rely on a diverse mix of news site, candidate and party sites, social media sites, video-streaming sites and forums. Because these searches are self-guided and driven by personal interest, voters are receptive to longer content and stay on the website as long as it delivers relevant information.
While long-form content is more persuasive, marketers still need strong hooks to capture attention in the first few seconds and give voters a reason to care about a candidate’s message. To connect with voters, marketers must pay attention to key topics that drive search behavior and recommend follow-up content based on individual interests and video engagement. Consider the example of President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 election campaigns, which leveraged direct email and data analytics to target untapped audiences with tailored messages at every stage of the election season. Presenting the right content at the right time convinces voters that marketers understand their priorities and can be trusted to provide on-target information in the future.
Consumers Trust Companies That Make an Impact
Both brand and campaign marketers can benefit from creating narratives that build the audience’s investment in an issue, whether it’s environmental sustainability, ethical business practices or social equality. Consumers don’t expect corporations to take a staunch political stance, but they do develop loyalty and favorability toward companies that support social change. Campaign seasons provide countless opportunities to market product tie-ins that encourage activism, awareness, philanthropy and even good-natured competition.
The majority of voters have strong views at the start of election season, and they gravitate toward brands and candidates that cater to their interests. Marketers with in-depth knowledge of their audiences can predict where and when voters will look for specific types of content, providing a framework for online marketing strategies. If you need guidance planning a multimedia marketing campaign to coincide with upcoming events, contact the LA Times today.