When we sit down with political campaign planners, there is little we can promise them about potential voters on any given day. We can’t guarantee they’ll see a magazine ad, or listen to a radio commercial or even see a TV commercial.
But there is one thing we can always guarantee: voters will look at their phones today.
Pew notes that two-thirds of Americans own and regularly use a smartphone, creating a unique opportunity to capitalize on the power of mobile audience coverage.
There’s a common misconception that mobile exclusively reaches the lower age bracket, but millennials are not the only ones with a mobile device constantly glued to their hands. Think about your parents, your grandparents. Do they have a smartphone? A tablet? Mobile devices are in everyone’s hands, and every hand over 18 belongs to a potential voter.
This mobile ubiquity, combined with today’s unparalleled targeting capabilities, gives political advertisers the ability to reach voters more effectively than ever before. The sooner political campaigns realize it’s not limited to generational trends, the better chance they’ll have of garnering votes.
Recognizing this is the easy part.
The next step is understanding that, while your voter is almost certainly on a mobile device, she is also tuning things out more quickly and indiscriminately than ever before. Attention spans have worn thin and oversaturation is only increasing across mediums, and messages that don’t immediately resonate will get lost in the shuffle.
Campaigns can overcome this by using creative to establish emotional connections with voters, but they first need to consider how best to deliver that impact on mobile.
Without the appropriate user experience, good creative becomes null and void. Imagine trying to view a video on your phone but the content is not optimized for mobile – it won’t matter how good the creative is if you’re unable to experience it properly.
The lack of a strong mobile experience is a missed opportunity. Considering most people view their phones, by Pew estimates 150 times a day, there is a strong possibility that a campaign's first impression could be left on a mobile device. As the saying goes, “no one gets a second chance at a first impression.” It’s crucial that campaigns leverage that opportunity.
This is why reaching voters on mobile and actually connecting with them are not the same.
In the absence of physical, face-to-face interactions, people find themselves relying on their devices to emotionally connect with friends and loved ones near and far. This makes the relationship between human and mobile uniquely personal.
Even beyond day-to-day social interactions, people feel genuine emotional distress when they lose their phones. Can you imagine another medium that creates such a unique, personal attachment?
Political advertisers can and should tap into this unique relationship by implementing creative, emotional content across the mobile ecosystem. After all, campaign messages still need emotional depth to draw a person out to the polls.
What’s stopping them?
For starters, political advertisers are failing to embrace a mobile-first approach. In today’s advertising world, simply ‘throwing in mobile’ at the end of a digital strategy is no longer enough. Even with mobile at the very center of campaigns, some might argue that it’s easier to portray a political message with emotional richness in a 30-second commercial than in a 15(or 10 or 5)-second made-for-mobile spot.
Forcing a 30-second spot onto mobile before a 10-second video highlight from a debate is the opposite of mobile-first thinking. Campaigns need to optimize every aspect of their media strategy for mobile engagement if they want to to make maximum impact.
Today’s mobile landscape represents a powerful opportunity for political campaigns to reach and connect with voters in exceptional ways. In this moment, millions of potential voters of all ages are engaging with a mobile device—that much can be guaranteed.
Mobile is not limited to the term millennials, and with people so emotionally invested in their devices, political advertisers can now be with all voters at all times – as long as they know how to capture their attention.
Good user experience combined with strong creative leads to emotional connections, and these connections are what ultimately lead voters to the polls, phone in hand.