2016 Election Digital Trends
Elections are great opportunities for innovation because campaigns are forced to iterate in a compressed timeline and the digital strategy must drive real world results – a win at the polls. This year there will be more voter contact online than ever before. As we enter the final sprint of the 2016 election, we wanted to share three initial trends that we hope will inform future digital campaigns.
1. Digital and Data Become Central to The Campaign Strategy: Very few campaign decisions were made in 2016 that did not involve digital and data consideration. Why? Digital increasingly sits at the intersection of fundraising, communications and voter contact efforts. As everything becomes digitally connected, organizations need rethink the role of the digital team and whether their structure promotes an integrated and digitally based strategy. The integration of digital became abundantly clear during the largest moments of this campaign like the debates and Democratic National Convention where the key messages may have begun on stage but captivated the nation for days following via seamlessly integrated digital content.
2. You Will Never Have Enough Content: Over the past two years, digital media consumption soared by 49%, which has allowed campaigns to reach voters in many more ways using many more concepts and data points. But with more channels and more data, there is an increased need for more resources to produce the creative to reach those audiences across all the new channels. These needs are only further exacerbated by the need for testing to only release not just any content, but only the most compelling. No campaign will ever have enough resources to produce content for every audience or message. A pillar of campaign strategy in the future will be strategically determining which content to produce in a world of limited resources.
3. Digital-First Creative Has Arrived: The major advantage of digital campaigns is to be able to reach just the voters you need in places where they’re already spending time like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Voters have more control over their media consumption online than ever before, therefore it is important to engage them with creative that feels genuinely interesting and native to these online platforms. Voters can immediately sniff out canned political messaging, particularly when it appears foreign to the medium. This cycle Democrats tailored our creative to perform best under each set of constraints – mobile, social, video. For instance, will people still receive your message if it is served on a mobile device or without sound turned on? Are millennials going to tune into something that looks like a traditional political ad in an election of deep skepticism? Digital–first creative can make the difference in whether your ad is seen or heard – and if it ultimately persuades someone to vote.
As the largest digital marketer of the Democratic Party, we have worked for presidential, senate, gubernatorial, and mayoral campaigns as well as many independent groups over the past 7 years. Outside of elections, we keep our teams and technology sharp by working with companies and causes. From fundraising to persuasion to get out the vote, the digital marketing behind political campaigns is always evolving to fit the need of each race and we are there early on to help drive that strategy across multiple states, races and groups. We look forward to sharing more about what we learned in 2016 after November 8. Until then — go get out the vote!