It's no secret that new devices and technologies have altered the video viewing habits of Americans. But, for the first time, those changes in content consumption may have a major effect on how, and where, political campaigns advertise.
A new survey, discussed last week at a conference hosted by Harvard's Institute of Politics and the Internet Association, indicates that fewer voters than ever -- 48 percent -- are turning to live TV as their primary method for viewing videos. And Millennials, the "digital natives" of the population, are the largest group straying from TV. For instance, in January 2014, 71 percent of Americans ages 18 to 34 watched online video content using a laptop, smartphone or tablet. The question on most political minds now is, "What does that mean for campaign ad viewership?"
Why are we tuning into this conversation? The survey points to growing trends in online video viewership, highlighting the importance of digital strategies, and we're pretty excited about that.
While the majority of political analysts still see TV advertising as the most effective means for communicating with the public at large, the survey shows that mindset isn't necessarily accurate when it comes to reaching younger voters.
Also, a 2014 Pew Research Center study found that adults of all ages have become less involved with political institutions in the past decade--a trend that the survey found to be even more prevalent with Millennials. So, as more Millennials turn to social media channels, live streaming and video on-demand, political ads are losing the very viewers they are striving to reach most if they neglect appropriate digital distribution.
Savvy campaign strategists know that as viewership habits continue to change, so must their allocation of advertising funds. It's becoming increasingly clear that in order to effectively reach particular voters, the content must flow across the channels those voters use most; the communication needs to meet voters where they convene.
It's a shift that has been slowly gaining steam since the Obama campaign first introduced social media as a major initiative in 2008, effectively showcasing the power of communicating across "unconventional" channels. But this new research may indicate the country is on the verge of an incredibly innovative and exciting shift in political communication.
We're optimistic about the growing desire of creating digital political content, and know that online video and ad insertion will likely play a major role in shaping tomorrow's campaigns. What do you think the future of political advertising might look like? Let us know in the comments.