The 2014 And 2016 Elections Will See Record Spending And Media Innovation

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 9, 2014

The 2014 election will decide which party controls the Congress and government at the state level.  It will also significantly set the stage for the 2016 Presidential election on many levels.

At stake are 436 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 Senate seats and 34 Governorships, in which an estimated $6 billion* dollars will be spent. The Republicans, Democrats and PACs are gearing up for a consequential election, even as the planning and fundraising are in full swing.

The Republican National Committee will target specific issues -- i.e., the economy, Obamacare, the deficit, a perception of weakness on both Iran and Syria and holding Hillary accountable for the response in Benghazi.

The Democratic National Committee has said that 2014 is “an opportunity to finish everything we set out to do. But it also means we will have to go to work protecting the progress we've made.” has said, “because 2014 is looking like a milestone year for progressives -- and we need to kick off the year not just running, but in a full-on sprint.”



The 2012 Obama election teams raised the bar in the use of digital, social, database marketing and hyper-targeting. As such, a new standard has been set for political advertising and the entire political media establishment is raising its game.

What Are The Key Priorities For Political Media Agencies?

I made an informal survey of the topics of interest for political media specialists in December 2013 with these results:

1.    Understand the best practices from non-political brands

2.    Use data to hyper-target selected voter groups

3.    Employ robust analytics: accountability and attribution, what worked and why

4.    Set-top-box targeting

5.    Use social media vs. social advertising

6.    Integrate into proprietary political systems/databases

7.    Expand use of mobile media 

What To Expect In The 2014  And 2016 Elections

1.    More digital media, including video, social and mobile.

President Obama's 2012 election media team created a new standard which has set the stage for political elections to come. It was composed of industry experts with prior experiences on the commercial side of search, digital marketing, social media, data mining and mobile. They were able to apply the best practices used by brand advertisers to the political arena.

There are overall market trends such as the increase in smartphone penetration and use of social media which will drive digital political budgets in 2014 and 2016.

The smartphone as a two-way interaction tool is unmatched. The typical smartphone today has motion sensors, a gyroscope, location and proximity sensors, voice sensor, compass and magnetic sensors, camera, fingerprint sensor, payment system and more. Political advertisers have the potential to tap into the power of the mobile phone to create compelling messages that get results using these features.

The penetration of smartphones will be over 200,000,000 in 2016, allowing for massive hyper-targeting at scale, unlike any prior election. The location-targeting technology is already at the state where voters can be targeted on the block level. On top of hyper-targeting there have been positive improvements in analytics and reporting for social and mobile.

Social media is an important information source for voters. Social media use on mobile is explosive. Mobile is the perfect medium for snackable social interactions.

Publishers are adopting "mobile first" strategy-making investments in mobile design across multiple screens. They are understanding how to harness the power of social media to drive ratings and to foster two-way communication with their users.

Video has been a staple of political campaigns since the early days of television. There will be strong demand for video on multiple screens. Publishers should look at their video offering on mobile and tablets if they want to cash in on political video budgets.

Set-top-box targeting and the ability to reach different voter targets within the household offers great potential for the cable operators. We will see more set-top box targeting in. 2014.

2.    Increase in use of DSP and DMP

The fragmentation and specialization of media on multiple screens and formats creates complexity that is ideally suited for data management platforms and DSP's.

In order to effectively target, it is necessary to understand the customer journey and use cases for different screens. The ability to message to an undecided voter and target them with tailored messages across screens is quickly becoming a reality.

3.    Less spending in newspaper and radio

Legacy media companies that invest in servicing the needs of their consumers on multiple screens will gain new audiences and more than replace the revenue lost due to declines in newspaper and radio spending. Content is still king !

4.    Transformative use of data targeting

Like it or not, we live in a world where 2.5 quintrillion bytes per day (18 zeros)** are produced. If you want to use data for targeting, it will need to be managed.

5.    New media models that will impact the 2016 Presidential campaign .

The innovations of the 2012 election combined with the upcoming 2014 election will change both the digital and overall election landscape for years to come. 

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