This year’s highly combative presidential primary campaigns have been highlighted by the largely unexpected success of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two candidates who have deftly applied digital marketing techniques – including highly influential online videos -- to their distinct advantages.
From the first candidate announcements in April 2015 through the Iowa caucuses this past February, Google reported that 110 million hours of videos related to all the candidates and their issues had been viewed on YouTube.
Google noted that 110 million hours is “estimated to be the equivalent of watching over 100 times every piece of content ever aired on CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and Fox News.”
No wonder all the presidential candidates have been buying up available ad time on YouTube. Not only can they reach mass numbers of viewers, but by targeting based on demographics such as age, gender and income, the candidates also hit voters precisely at those “micro-moments” when they’re focused on a particular issue or controversy.
Such video advertising isn’t limited to YouTube, as the medium has also exploded on Facebook, AOL and beyond. Indeed, Sanders’ mobile video ad campaign targeting 25-44 year-olds was directly responsible for his primary upset in Michigan, AOL spokespeople told Marketing Dive.
Campaigns are using search to drive people not only to the paid ads, but also to videos they’re posting on a regular basis. The key: anticipate the questions voters will have and be ready in advance with brief videos that provide timely answers that will show up atop search results. At the same time, counterattack the video search tactics of rival candidates.
For example, if the Hillary Clinton campaign knows she will bring up the subject of Sanders’ “flip-flopping” on gun-control issues during an upcoming debate, the Hillary campaign would have search-ready videos posted for viewers typing in “Sanders gun flip-flop” in real-time during the debate.
But the Bernie campaign should have anticipated this, so that when viewers type in that very phrase, its video explaining the Sanders position on the issue would come up instead.
While the candidates debate in the flesh, a hidden battle that parallels the visible campaign is taking place in the world of video ad tech via proven techniques such as keyword bidding, content marketing and social media.
On the content side, candidates are going beyond their own videos by realizing the power of highly influential political YouTube personalities and channels – whether it’s Bernie doing an hour-and-a-half interview on The Young Turks The Young Turks or Trump doing a shorter stint on Alex Jones’ InfoWars, both of which have had more than 1.6 million views.
Celebrities from non-political fields also have huge YouTube followers. So comedian Sarah Silverman’s five-minute video endorsing Bernie pulled over half-million views in its first three weeks.
More than half of model Tia Tequila’s 132,000 YouTube subscribers have watched her endorsement of Trump since she posted it last October.
Besides search, Trump’s campaign drives voters to videos through a simple site, which prominently features videos of recent speech highlights, commercials and media appearances right on the home page.
The two other Republican candidates -- Ted Cruz and John Kasich -- feature videos on their home pages, but not the Democrats.
Another way to direct people to videos is through social media.
All the campaigns have dedicated social media teams, of course…except perhaps for Donald Trump, who likes to do his own tweets late at night. Sometimes he tweets anti-Cruz videos.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest have also been driving video views this primary season.As we head toward the final primaries and then the conventions, we can say with a high degree of confidence that the race to the White House will surely be through online video