The Washington Post is reporting that political candidates in the United States are intending to spend the GDP of smaller countries on their ad campaigns. Most of this money looks like it’s going to go to TV ads, which just goes to show that political ad consultants wake up screaming, “Spend more money on TV ads!”
There are several reasons that focusing on TV ads is daft, not the least being that many attribute a large portion of President Obama’s two electoral successes to his savvy social media team. There’s also the fact that people are fleeing TV like it’s a sinking ship, that more and more people are getting their news online and that anyone doing just about any research on a candidate is going to do it online.
Older TV Watchers Are Gold To Political Analysts
A few years ago, the only people using the net were young whippersnappers that needed to get off someone’s lawn. Today, Bloomberg reports that 60 percent or more of seniors are going online. This is important because trends show that younger people don’t vote and older people do. So, in theory, you focus on TV, where the seniors are, and you don’t waste your time on the Internet. Except, this isn’t really the case any more.
Another pervading theory is that older people watch the news, and those older people are most likely to vote. Well, okay. The issue is when we get into the particulars. First and foremost, they’re assuming that seniors, who are frequently on limited budgets, haven’t cut the cord and gone to less expensive TV alternatives, as people have increasingly begun doing.
Second, they’re assuming that these individuals are swing voters or undecided. A poll from Gallup came out about a year ago saying that 42 percent of voters considered themselves independent, but when The Cook Political Report looked at the numbers, they discovered that the vast majority of those “independent” voters actually leaned towards one party or another. Only 10 percent of voters don’t have a party preference.
So, there’s a big question mark around whether ads that are being shown to potential voters are actually doing anything to influence them.
Does the Youth Vote not Count?
There’s also the question of whether or not political campaigns should be focusing on older voters. The Obama campaign went gangbusters for younger voters, and look how that worked out. There was a lot of other stuff working in Obama’s favor, but his courting of the youth vote was something that worked spectacularly for him. However, political analysts being in a very, very deep rut can be used in lieu of a compass to find an older voter.
Yes, a lot of younger people don’t tend to vote, but a lot of campaigns don’t tend to do much to actually get them to vote. The focus on cable news and not the Internet is a great example of this. Millennials by and large get their news from the Internet and social media. And a lot of other people, per Politico, either get the majority or a significant amount of their news from the Internet.
Political consultants are looking at two groups of people: an older one, likely with established political views and one that is younger and possibly more open to new ideas. They’re honing in on the people with decades of opinions and experience cementing their views because that’s what they do. A young vote is equally as valuable as a older vote, but they’re not being treated that way.
People Don’t Use A TV For Research
There is only one person that I know that doesn’t get news from the Internet in some way or another, and she’s my aunt and in her 70’s. She watches both Fox and MSNBC because she doesn’t particularly trust either (something I agree with her on), but since everyone else in the family uses the Internet for news, she still hears about Internet news items. Essentially, even though she doesn’t use the Internet, she’s still getting information from it.
This is pure speculation on my part, but I’d say 80 to 90 percent of people looking into a politician do so on the Internet. Therefore, it’s completely mind boggling to me that huge amounts of money aren’t being poured into PPC campaigns. Want people to see good news about you or bad news about your opponent when they do a Google search? Take the top three spots in PPC results.
Discover that a TV ad is hurting your poll numbers? Buy a ton of Facebook and Twitter ads rebutting the argument. Heck, if you can get your post to go viral, you’re going to be getting free advertising from your followers.
TV still has an important place in political advertising, but if you want to reach the largest number of people and be able to control the conversation as it’s happening, you don’t put the majority of your funds into TV ads.