The Year Ahead: Seat Belts Required

The great Bette Davis summed it up nicely. Fasten those seat belts, kids, 2017 IS going to be a bumpy ride. But probably not for all of the reasons you might expect.

Here at Spot-On we focus on tactics and mechanics. So our year ahead projections – like this pretty good one from last year – look at the stuff no one says they care about. Or, perhaps more accurately, the stuff no one cares about until it breaks.

A lot broke in 2016. So, without further ado, here are Spot-On’s predictions for 2017, the year ahead.

Hacking is real and it can happen to you. Yeah, we know, this Russia-DNC stuff sounds like a wacky spy thriller. But when President-elect Trump said that “a 14 year old” could hack John Podesta’s email he wasn’t entirely wrong. Hacking programs that ‘phish’ for passwords and log-ins are easily acquired and the “social hacking” – that’s when a pissed-off former staffer gives your log-ins to your opponent  – is almost certain to come to political campaigns this year.

Footnote: Change your passwords regularly – especially if you fire people. Make sure your office wifi routers have firewalls. Deploy two-step authorizations for log-ins. And, don’t assume your vendor is keeping you safe.

Hacking’s cousin, ad fraud, is here to stay. The brand advertising world went into a meltdown before Christmas over the news that a sophisticated group of professional hackers had robbed them blind. This was not a bunch of 14 year-old script kiddies up for a little afternoon fun. No, this was a organized effort – a business – that falsified Internet Protocol address to create ad views that well, weren’t.

Footnote: “IP Addresses”  are mistakenly beloved because some people think they’re static like a small mail address. They aren’t. And a ‘cookie’ generated by a voter list and sent to a fake address is still an ad no one saw.

Firms you know and love will go away. Lots of ad and other tech firms got into political in 2016. Most will go away. Some will disappear as they get bought as the fall-out from ad fraud continues. Some will disappear because they don’t understand ‘off’ years. And some will just evaporate because the $1b they thought they’d get just for showing up in 2016 didn’t land in their pockets.

Footnote: Spot-On doesn’t care who was in political in 2016. It’s the folks who are here with us in 2017 we care about.

Polling isn’t dead. It’s just resting. Well, polling as we knew it is dead. What’s going to take it’s place? Best bet: rolling your own “data.” What does that mean? Using firms that canvas, measure and look at your specific campaign audience before you do your media buys and messaging instead of relying on off-the-shelf historic data that predicts what’s clearly no longer as predictable as it once was.

Footnote: You know that financial firm warning: “Past performance is not an indication of future returns”? ALL political campaigns need to adopt that mantra.

Help is on the way. Confused? Worried? Dissatisfied? Don’t be. Spot-On’s (free) best practices white paper – our version of a seat belt – will be released (for free) at the end of January with fanfare, confetti and a lot of bragging and no price tag. Want to reserve your copy?  Send us an email and we’ll get you on the list (really, no charge).

And if that’s not soon enough, you can follow us on Twitter or hang with us on Facebook where we offer regular updates and comments and “told you so’s”.