Published date: Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Future in the Palm of Your Hand - Mobile and the 2016 Election

Every day brings new analysis, new interpretations and fresh perspectives on what is sure to be a titanic and exciting battle between Republican and Democrat candidates. But what does this have to do with mobile?

In terms of social media, Barack Obama’s masterful online campaigns in both 2008 and 2012 are certainly a model that will be imitated – the outgoing President posted on Instagram five times more than rival Mitt Romney, driving engagement for the Democrats not seen by the Republicans.

But what about mobile advertising? Recent commentary in AdWeek suggests that mobile ads will be instrumental in the race for the White House this year. 67% of Hispanics and 60% of black voters visit political websites on their mobile – significantly higher than the average figure of 49%. In 2016, the electorate will be formed of around 30% non-white voters – a huge portion of the overall votes. This will be all the more important in swing-states with a far greater ethnic variety.

For campaigners, mobile is a pivotal route to potential voters. Now more than ever, location targeting can be used to make sure that mobile ads are being seen by the right people in the right places. This is no gimmick – as far back as 2014 AdExchanger was emphasising how important the contextual and geographic relevance of ads can be on mobile. Delivering important and regional messages to citizens can show a level of investment not possible when ads are presented on a national scale.GOP_Bush_110515 (1)

This can be taken one step further. Using machine learning and data, it is possible for experts to optimize these campaigns – delivering the right adverts to the right demographic at the right time of the day. It’s an incredible prospect, but a glimpse of the future – artificial intelligence may be able to predict how voters might vote before they have even decided. One machine has predicted an outcome for the 2016 election, though it will be interesting to see how close it is to the final result.

Another important element in all of this is video. Video has been instrumental in articulating key campaign messages – a huge amount is expected to be spent on digital adspend in the 2016 election. These videos are heavy hitting and powerful tools for articulating candidate messages – the backlash to Donald Trump’s campaign video reflect this. Looking forward to 2020, the growth of social media and digital video could mean $3.3 billion will be spent on digital, trebling the figure in 2016. Mobile, in all its forms, is the latest battleground for campaigners, and may produce exciting and unexpected results come November.