It took a pandemic to completely destroy the false perception that digital events or online behavior was somehow distinct from other day-to-day activity. No longer can a campaign say that ‘digital’ is different from mail, telephone calling or television.
Increasing use of online tools – for doctors’ visits, business meetings and calls with friends and relatives – means what were once novelties are now somewhat reliable consumer services. These devices have been in our lives for some time but staying at home to work is just driving that, um, home.
The first evidence of this is the popularity of telephone town halls and Zoom meetings. Online is being used for lawmakers’ formal meetings as well as for campaign outreach.
The increased integration of digital tools for campaigns and voters should come with at least one warning: the “free” use of these tools means they’re less secure. That’s already provided some dramatic lessons about online privacy – for campaigns and for voters.
Looking to the summer when these tools will still be needed, it’s important to remember that intense crisis-driven interest won’t last. And door-to-door field work will be more restrained so the need to reach residents – not just voters, everyone in a community – will be a more necessary compliment to online gatherings.
Happily, interest in local media is surging. The chart below shows the dramatic increase in audiences across all news sites. This trend is likely to continue, pounding home to news outlets the value – maybe even the superior value – of their websites over their printed product.
While audiences are growing, ad revenue for many of these outlets has fallen dramatically. So publishers will start looking – and looking hard – for revenue. Political campaigns should expect to see less effective reach with ad buys that are made ‘programmatically’ as publishers begin to monitor the sales of their remnant ad placements.
Many voters and residents are seeing changes in how they vote, when they vote and where they vote as we move to the reschedule primary season and away from mandatory in-person voting. In particular, new vote-by-mail elections will need sustained support as well any online outreach via phone or video conference.
There are plenty of ways to do this but, for our money, the best one will be direct buys on reliable, known outlets that voters have trusted for years. Spot-On has a range of approaches to suit any and all budgets – for telephone town halls, video events or vote-by-mail and election changes.