Internet Advertising Studies Show Candidates Using Social Media to Influence Swing Voters
April 2, 2012
(Long Island, N.Y.) As fewer audiences are receptive to traditional television commercials, Internet advertising is becoming increasingly important to draw swing voters to particular candidates. The campaign for Mitt Romney has attempted to utilize Social networks to attract new voters. Candidates from both sides of the aisle have long used websites to address their followers and attract donations, but advertising online as well as social media has been more successful than ever catching undecided voters.
To make matters worse, a growing number of television viewers use DVR technology to avoid having to watch commercials when they record television broadcasts, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. Viewers have been recording to VHS tapes and fast-forwarding through commercials since the 1980s, although the percentage of viewers with these capabilities on their sets is far greater than they were back then – thanks to the Digital TV Transition Mandate. Many people are also turning towards video on demand services for entertainment. While these services usually feature both traditional Internet advertising and commercials, they are a far cry from the traditional commercials that most have gotten used to on television.
Many commentators have already addressed the fact that social media and Internet advertising has been a driving force in the Obama presidency. During the 2008 Obama campaign, organizers used various electronic outlets to attract voters. These online services were instrumental in the election. Moreover, Obama is the first president to seriously use YouTube as a tool for communicating with the constituency. The weekly addresses are relatively famous.
Therefore, it makes sense that the Romney and Paul campaigns would also throw in their digital lot. They too have opted to develop a plan around Internet advertising. By using location-targeting technology, Romney has been able to reach important markets in Wisconsin, and did Paul. Advertising analysts use software to examine what sorts of websites and search terms are most effective in getting people to click banners. Some topics have been rather effective.
Computer users that search for terms like technology and literature have apparently been receptive to Romney’s advertising. However, patterns differ between different states. What is effective in one area might not be in another. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to draw any real conclusions from a search term that is not fundamentally political in nature might say about a voter. Some skeptics say that it doesn’t prove anything at all. The attempts thus far have been targeted solely towards different audiences. Campaign organizers believe topics are more important than individual sites.
Potential voters could still zone out Internet advertising in the same way they have with other forms of advertising. People like to be informed, but too much information can be considered a nuisance. Attack ads have become targets of ridicule and controversy. That might be the reason that the Romney campaign was selective when it came to which ads would be distributed online. The Obama campaign has monitored emails in a somewhat similar fashion to ensure that information stays fresh. The digital team for the President’s reelection campaign knows when emails are opened and when links are clicked. They use this information to decide whether or not to continue sending out solicitations.
One might wonder whether or not these data collection methods raise the ire of certain Internet advertising privacy activists. Many people have written about the ways that Internet advertising collects information without the knowledge of individual computer users. The world of politics is already wrought with controversy, so candidates that invest in Internet advertising will probably be extremely careful when it comes to protecting individual rights.
Another problem comes from the measurement of certain statistics. Some people have remarked that the ratio of money spent on Internet advertising doesn’t match the amount of time spent by users surfing the web. Some people could interpret this as businesses refusing to adapt, but other commentators have suggested that many Internet advertising campaigns are ineffective.
A recent study by marketers suggested that around 31% of Internet advertising banners are out of sight. This means that people reading articles online might not even get the opportunity to see them. It also suggested that targeting Internet advertising beyond traditional marketing demographics could be extremely effective. Demographic profiles become less useful as more terms are added to them.
Concerns have been raised about situations where Internet advertising content is unintentionally served up on a website that features objectionable content. This can produce problems for any commercial brand. These sorts of problems could become even worse for candidates that want to run for public office. That being said, Internet advertising is still one of the most effective ways to reach a large audience. Advertisers that are able to ensure ads are delivered in a useable form can catch new customers. This same logic can just as easily be applied to political campaigns. When people are able to correct these problems, advertising will be sure to influence consumers in ways that have yet to be seen.