Every year at Moxie, our Innovation & Emerging Media team produces an annual trends reportwhere we look at the most important trends we feel will impact marketers and their campaigns this year.
Given that 2012 is an election year, we’ve been tracking how two of the country’s largest campaigns, the Presidential campaigns for Romney 2012 and Obama 2012, have been leveraging digital media to promote their candidates. The election has also changed how media and non-profit organizations have approached their coverage of the campaign.
Here’s a progress report on how our trends have played out and how the evolving digital ecosystem is impacting advertising as we move into 2013. Be sure to check out the links to learn more about each trend and what we discussed at the beginning of the year.
The 24-hour news cycle makes this trend a no-brainer for media coverage and the 2012 campaigns. Both campaigns have used social media to connect to the electorate 24/7 through the use of their respective Twitter accounts, Google+ hangouts, and even Obama’s AMA on Reddit this week. Both campaigns have acknowledged that not only is the traditional news media “Always On,” but their owned media properties also have to operate as 24/7 campaign resources.
Organizations like the Sunlight Foundation have found ways to turn Congress itself into an always on, connected platform for gathering and reporting information. Apps like Congress for Android, StreamCongress, and Realtime Congress have all made it easy for users to track data coming out of Congress. While our original intent with the Web of Things focused on how smarter devices and sensors can change how people interact with the world, the thought of Congress itself becoming a data source demonstrates the breadth of the Web of Things into aspects of American culture that we didn’t anticipate.
The most compelling example of Big Data in the campaigns is Romney’s use of data mining to get insights into potential donors who typically don’t participate in the elections. The campaign has used data mining from a company called Buxton Co., to crunch numbers on purchase history and church attendance to identify new and likely, wealthy donors.
This trend addresses how any medium that can be digitized can become a search string. Consumers experience this through apps like Shazam, Viggle, and Google’s reverse image search.
On the political end, Ad Hawk from the Sunlight Foundation and SuperPACapp from Glassy Media are both using Automatic Content Recognition (the same technology used by Shazam) to let users’ phones listen to a campaign ad and provide greater context around who funded the ad, fact check the issues addressed in the ad, and get more information about Super PACs in general.
Given the press about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram earlier this year, who really doubted that the popular photo sharing service would be used by campaign staffers and media outlets? The Obama 2012 team has been on Instagram for a while now and has over 1.3 million followers on the popular photo sharing app. The account photodocuments every stop on the campaign trail and provides a way for the electorate to follow the campaign, visually, no matter where they may live.
Media outlets have also jumped on the trend. The Wall Street Journal launched WSJ WorldStream, a platform for Wall Street Journal reports to upload mobile videos directly from their phones while they follow the campaigns. Promotion of the site coincided with this week’s Republican National Convention, and the mobile videos provide a raw, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the events taking place in Tampa.
At the end of 2011, our team was surprised by the amount of apps available to activists participating in the conflicts in Syria and the Occupy Wall Street movement. It seemed clear that moving into the 2012 campaign, politicians would look to provide some of the same features to their bases to promote canvassing and fundraising.
The Obama 2012 app best represents this trend in the current landscape. The app provides a “Get Informed” section on the issues, local impact, and voting information. The “Action” section lets users sign up to help register other voters, find volunteer opportunities on the campaign, and tools for canvassing neighborhoods.
Every campaign needs to raise money. Our Impulse Commerce trend addressed the need for brands to enable people to buy their products easily and quickly no matter what medium they choose to use. This week the Obama 2012 campaign announced they would be partnering with Payvia to enable text donations from mobile phones. The Romney campaign is expected to follow suit shortly. The donations are capped at $50 per month and $10 per text, adhering to FEC rules.
Romney surprised everyone when his campaign launched the Romney VP app to give everyone, not just the press, access to the campaign’s VP announcement. While the media still broke the story before the app announced Paul Ryan’s VP candidacy, the app demonstrated that the Romney campaign was willing to democratize the announcement as much as possible by using digital tools. Voters didn’t need to remain glued to their TV sets to find out about the pick, a simple push notification from the app was all they needed.
New media outlets like YouTube and Microsoft are getting involved in election coverage through two different, but equally interesting initiatives. YouTube has created an election center helmed by cable news veteran Larry King. The channel features the latest news related to the election and fits into YouTube’s new focus on producing original content channels that are exclusively on YouTube.
Microsoft’s Xbox Live platform has evolved beyond a network for video games. Xbox Live has evolved over the past year into a true entertainment hub, and Microsoft’s announcement of an Xbox Live Elections 2012 hub continues to push this idea forward. The Elections app is a remarkable example of interactive television. Viewers can track live coverage of the conventions, register to vote from their Xbox through a partnership with Rock the Vote, and can even participate in a nationwide focus group by sharing their opinions in real-time with others while the conventions and upcoming debates take place.
Did no one expect hackers to make their mark on the 2012 election? With all of this digital media in play, it’s no surprise that data security has become an important element of the political process, especially as candidates try to control the flow of information in and out of their respective campaigns.
One example is the hacking of Mitt Romney’s personal e-mail and Dropbox accounts. As more people turn to cloud-based data storage to make file sharing and communications easier to organize, they become a larger target for enterprising hackers looking to shake up the political process.
Moving into 2013
It will be interesting to see how these trends progress moving forward, and if the exposure of new segments of the population to these digital approaches will change the way brands view them moving forward.
Which of these trends do you think is having the biggest impact on brands this year, or will impact marketing campaigns moving forward? Let us know in the comments below!
Also, be sure to check out our 2012 trends report, The Evolving Digital Ecosystem, here.