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Eli Mandelbaum
Eli Mandelbaum 1 July 2016

The Role Of Video Advertising In The 2016 Election

Our latest roundtable discussion, sponsored by Brightcom and moderated by Philip Rosenstein, Founder of WhiteHousePress | Newsletter Editor / Columnist at Mediapost takes on the topic of video spending in this year’s presidential election and how video has been (and will be) used in the race for the White House.

Now that the battle lines are drawn and November is in view, we are looking at a campaign season that is significantly different than the last. Four years may not seem like a very long time to see such changes, but as many people in the digital marketing industry know, a lot can happen within that time. Yes, there are some aspects of political campaigns that will never change, but throughout history, candidates and campaigns have been quick to incorporate the latest marketing techniques into their strategies and this year, video is no exception. Since 2012, the way users consume video, the audiences reached by video, and video content itself has changed drastically.

Leave No Group Untargeted.
Throughout this campaign, there has been a large focus on how to target specific demographics based on messaging and networks. As our panel pointed out, this election year, we have more data than ever before. Learning more about users and who they are makes impressions more valuable, especially when you’re talking about potential voters. 

Device-specific and location-based video targeting has also become incredibly useful throughout the primaries in order to reach voters in key states — we will undoubtedly see this continue right through Election Day. During the Michigan primaries, Bernie Sanders targeted 25-44 year olds with mobile video ads which presumably helped play a factor in his upset. Candidates are constantly tailoring their messaging and their style of delivery to cater to their audience which makes the ability to target video so granularly a huge benefit. 

Not All Messaging Is Created Equal.
As many marketers know, being able to target specific audiences is great, but it is much more effective when you are targeting them with the right message. Because video is the most engaged-with type of media, it is no surprise that it has become a key focus in this election. Aside from personalized messaging, there is a question of authenticity. In order to convey authenticity, many candidates are turning to influencers.

While on the subject of messaging, a question was posed to the panelists about what types of messaging people should expect to see in this election. A popular answer was “negativity.” Most political campaigns have their share of negativity, but several of the panelists believed that this election in particular has and will be fueled by negative messaging. That being said, they also pointed out that this type of messaging has not become very popular in digital video and many publishers will not allow it to.

Unlike many traditional media outlets, digital publishers have more freedom to lean more to the left or right. This plays a factor in who they allow to advertise and the messaging they allow to be shared. Buzzfeed, for example, pulled out of a $1.3 million advertising deal with the Republican National Committee over objections to Donald Trump’s rhetoric. This serves as proof that the message itself is important — yes, publishers need to “keep the lights on,” but they also need to keep their audience happy. 

Which Buying Method Gets The Vote?
If the Republican National Committee’s $150 million digital video buy is any indicator, there are big budgets to be spent over the next few months. When considering programmatic versus direct buying, the majority of panelists agreed that campaign video content requires both. This is most likely because each method offers its own advantages and challenges. With programmatic, you are able to reach specific audiences and spend money efficiently, but due to a shortage of inventory, the quality of the video content may be lacking. Direct buying allows for customized messaging and high-quality content, but the targeting and personalization may suffer with a lack of accessibility. The solution is a comprehensive mix.

What do you think? Share your thoughts on video advertising and its place in the 2016 election in the comments below.

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