Consumer viewing habits have undergone a huge transformation, with digital, social and mobile content and ad views skyrocketing at the expense of traditional media.

It is important to consider that most of these consumers represent potential voters, and their media engagement can have a significant impact on any political campaign.

2010 may have been touted as the first ‘Digital Election’ in the UK; however, the real ground was broken in last year’s General Election when digital campaigning tactics arguably swayed voters towards the Conservative Party.

Embracing new media trends reportedly helped the party reach over 17 million people a week through targeted online communications. So, with the growth of online video and programmatic ad tech now growing, will those best able to harness this digital shift be the ones to emerge triumphant in the UK’s next milestone vote, i.e. the EU referendum in 2016?

Looking to the US, we can already see trends emerging that will surely be echoed in future elections on this side of the pond. The media industry has made some big steps since the last US election in 2012 and the ability content providers have to leverage the digital ad technology has evolved in response to changing consumption behaviours; this will prove vital in maximising the candidates’ 2016 political ad revenues.

As more of the electorate consumes election-related content and advertising digitally, the campaigns and content providers embracing ad tech to reach them will be the big winners in November. For the 2016 election cycle, digital advertising will garner an estimated $1 billion - up from only $22 million in 2008. The video segment will likely reap much of this revenue, following overall digital media spending trends.

With the growing challenge of reaching fragmented audiences and elusive voters, candidates are not only increasing their advertising but launching their campaigns and disseminating their messages across a wider range of digital platforms than in previous elections. Content providers need to be ready to connect them with voters via the latest video ad technology available.

2016 Ballots Will Be Driven By the Digitally Dominant

Of particular importance to capture: digitally dominant, culturally influential Millennials and Hispanics. Millennials have overtaken the shrinking Boomer population to become America’s largest generation (at over 75 million strong); they will represent approximately a third of 2016 voters. Hispanics are among the most rapidly growing population in the U.S. (with an estimated 58 million members) and are expected to represent roughly 10% of 2016 voters. Further, post analysis of the 2008 and 2012 elections shows President Obama’s success was in large part credited to his ability to reach both of these voter groups. In the UK, migrant voters represent a similarly key demographic to attract.

Fast forward to 2016, it’s particularly interesting to point out that current reports and analyses cite that Millennials and Hispanics are two of the leading demographics in digital video and mobile consumption. For example, a recent Nielsen report highlighted that Latinos average 10 million mobile video views per month. Further, the average Latino spends eight hours every month watching online video--90 minutes longer than the U.S. average. That trend is already ubiquitous across the Millennial age group (over 20% of which are Hispanic). eMarketer reports that 77 million Millennials (which represents 92% of all U.S. Millennials using the internet in 2015) are watching digital video content and a recent Animoto survey showed 45% of Millennials would rather watch video on their mobile device than a laptop or desktop computer.

In comparison, there are currently over 4 million migrants with voting rights in Great Britain with the potential to swing marginal seats; the vast majority of these are Asian (Indian and Pakistan nationals combined equal 1m+ voters). Successfully engaging these groups through digital advertising and campaigning could have strong political results – though perhaps not in the EU referendum where they will not have the right to vote.

So How Will Ad Tech Help Reach Voters?

Two big video ad technology trends will guide voter outreach and ad spending for both national and local campaigns over the next year: data-driven, programmatic advertising and anti-ad blocking. Both of these innovations will help political ad buyers and sellers surface hard-to-capture, yet coveted voter groups and allow them to provide relevant messaging built around their ever-changing content consumption and sharing habits.

In future elections, the power of programmatic advertising driven by big data will help candidates on a number of fronts. These include honing in on specific voter segments with laser-like messaging and creative, guiding overall strategic media planning and inventory forecasting, and quickly reacting to campaign shifts in battleground states and beyond to optimise the impact of ad spends.

In 2016, we will also see it pushing greater convergence between linear and digital TV platforms, as campaigns look to improve video advertising efficiencies and scale. With projected programmatic digital video ad spend to reach nearly $4 billion next year, the political ad category is sure to benefit greatly.

Meanwhile, audiences accustomed to easily skipping political advertising have been turning to ad blockers on digital platforms. This phenomenon will cost content providers nearly $22 billion in ad revenue this year, and is certain to impact the fortunes of 2016 political campaigns as well, as Millennials are driving much of the ad blocking activity. However, with the advent of anti-ad blocking technology, publishers and broadcasters finally have a reliable, cost-effective method for unlocking their blocked political video ad inventory and ensuring campaign messages reach intended audiences.

The 2015 General Election in the UK saw a huge increase in digital campaigning and advertising, with the parties increasing their online campaign budgets extensively. Out of the UK population, 62 per cent owned a smartphone in 2014, and consequently digital engagement has grown hugely.

With the EU Referendum, and following that, the General Election in the next few years, it will be interesting to see how the scale of digital campaigning changes. Future campaigns and content providers looking to win political favour should now be moving in the direction of digital platforms to find their voting audiences, using data-led programmatic advertising to target them and anti-ad blockers to meet them where they are.

By: Paula Minardi, Industry Marketing Manager - Broadcast, Ooyala


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