Commentary

YouTube Political Campaign Videos Are Yuge

Believe it or not, we’re still early in the presidential campaign season, but it seems pretty clear that the rudeness of discourse bodes well, if in a lousy kind of way, for digital media which is right at home with crude and invasive. 

And when you’ve got one candidate (Trump)  making fun of a another candidate’s wife (Cruz)  after an anti-Trump PAC ran a bawdy, basically nude photo of Trump’s wife online, you can only wonder how low things can get by November, online and beyond. 

What’s the opposite of “the sky’s the limit”?

A new blog post by YouTube’s Kate Stanford, director of advertising marketing,  is adding some numbers to the fracas. She says that so far this political season, 110 million hours of election-tinged content has been consumed on YouTube, more than half of it via mobile devices.

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As you know if you have ever come within six blocks of a YouTube blog post, they are nothing if they don’t make some incredible comparison to the formerly real world. So, the blog notes, “That's 100 times  the amount of time it would take to watch all the content ever aired on CNN, C-Span, MSNBC, and Fox News combined.”

So that’s a lot.

“Voter decisions used to be made in living rooms, in front of televisions,” Stanford begins her blog. “Today, they're increasingly made in micro-moments, on mobile devices. Election micro-moments happen when voters turn to a device to learn about a candidate, event, or issue.”

It’s not just young YouTube-friendly folks checking out those videos. YouTube research says one in four are over 45 years old. But 59% are under 35.

Since April 2015, the biggest YouTube presidential topics have been, in order, the refugee crisis (up 224% since the start), immigration (up 51%), gun control (up 27%), the economy (up 22%) and healthcare (up 10%). 

Because hand size was not even a presidential issue last April, there’s no comparison there.

It should be noted, YouTube is not exactly all that deep. Also today, Zefr, the contextual adv firm that keeps track of YouTube topics and trends, reported that for the week of March 12-18, YouTube’s top “political” videos were two separate videos of Donald Trump’s near-attack in Dayton (for a total of 6 million views), the “Saturday night Live” show open in which Ben Carson endorsed Trump (2 million views) and 1.4 million views for the spot-on “SNL” Hillary Clinton parody ad in which she morphs into Bernie Sanders.

One of the unheralded aspects of social media for politicians is that while the politicians can get their message out quickly and hit targets, they either suffer or benefit from user comments. I watched the half-hour live Sanders interview with The Young Turks’ Cent Uygur on YouTube, which got favorably mentioned by Stanford,  and  the comments were the bonus material, a mix of the forlorned and the furious.

One woman, a on again/off again waitress named "Spoonheim 7" wrote, “Saw it live, watched it again when posted, watching again now.  Need to sleep soon, though - because my boss called me to offer me my job back and laughed when he found out that I quit to see this interview.” 

That’s the kind of stuff you don’t get from Wolf Blitzer.

pj@mediapost.com
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