The 2016 election has revived a once-dormant subset of the US population. General voters are more in-tune than ever to the political process from early debates to unpredictable state primaries. By capitalizing on media consumption habits and situation context which influences consumer interaction, advertisers can reach the coveted Millennial demographic during political windows. Many are dubbing the 2016 election the “Snapchat Election,” due to campaigns’ reliance on social media, as well as streaming content, feeds, and snaps.
Digital’s role in recent US elections has evolved from email/newsletters to RSS feeds, to Facebook and Twitter, to Snapchat and other instant social media vehicles. Snapchat’s “Live Stories” bring election coverage to a young and connected audience who would not otherwise be following happenings in a traditional broadcast manor.
Snapchat has enacted some specific political outreach features including the geo-targeted political show, “Good Luck America,” which is produced by former CNN political reporter and current director of news at Snapchat, Peter Hamby. This feature is activated during key moments in the election cycle.
Other subtle activations include sponsored content and Snapchat filters, also powered by geo-targeting capabilities.
Close to two-thirds of 18-24 year olds are Snapchat users, 31% of which are 25-34. Snapchat has captured the most coveted demographic audience and most challenging to understand in Millennials. Data will play a significant role as campaigns focus on reaching undecided voters, a large subset of which resides with Millennials.
While traditional formats like broadcast and cable TV remain dominant in political ad spending, digital is increasing its share upwards of 20% and is projected to continue to grow as the election nears.
As a whole, the estimated media spend by the election’s conclusion is expected to top $1B.
As campaign strategists and media outlets continue to refine the digital targeting process, digital’s impact on national elections is going to climb dramatically. By identifying pools of prospective supporters, camps will be able to create rich databases of voter information and target high concentration of supporters, as well as non-supporters or undecided voters as well.
TV has historically been the most heavily relied upon medium during the political cycle. 78% of US adults learned about the 2016 Presidential Election from TV, where only 65% sought out information from digital sources. Further, 61% of registered voters saw campaign ads on TV versus 40% on digital platforms. Oftentimes, the most effective means of obtaining candidate information is through headlines, where the model is to package digital snippets for the casual reader in a clear, concise, and instantaneous fashion to compete with social media speed.
TV remains the most trusted medium when it comes to political news, but social media’s impact is continuing to grow and become more influential in the process.
When it comes to younger Americans, nearly 6 in 10 Millennials report getting political news from social media, namely Facebook. By using social media as their primary source for information-gathering, Millennials are consuming news through headlines and opinions versus in-depth reporting that accompanies TV segments. Additionally, relying on social media as political data is much more nuanced than TV audiences. The social media experience is individualized through one’s choices, through a personalized network and the habits therein, and through the algorithms the platforms create, which change over time.
Millennials make up 31% of US Eligible Voters in 2016, tied with Baby Boomers, and followed at 25% by Gen X and only 13% Silent/Greatest Generation. This information confirms that there are generational divides in media consumption, apparent most starkly in the Presidential Election. Understanding how to reach these segments and deliver significant messaging will be the difference in victory or defeat as the race unfolds.