Commentary

Long, Live, Raw Fight For White House Is Over

I can understand why people might share a presidential campaign video with me. I can’t imagine why I’d ever watch it. Especially during the last few days of this political season, television has been nothing but campaign ads, the newscasts filled with attack speeches. It’s been overwhelmingly negative. Online, it’s the same way on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Unruly, the ad tech company that tracks who shares what and tries to determine why, has been charting the Clinton/Trump ads and videos and come up with some interesting observations.

As noted by Tara Mulloy on the Unruly blog, viewers are “gravitating toward video materials that aren’t overly edited. Our data shows that live content has by far the highest share rate (12.5%), followed by unedited clips (5.6%) and finally ads (2.9%).”

Now there’s a trend wrapped in a trend.
One: Consumers have become very accustomed to unprofessional video. It’s what they’ve seen on YouTube or shot on their own phones, so the substandard quality of sound, video and editing is no big deal. It’s become the new standard.

And two: Live video has the powerful lure of truthfulness, from which all the subsequent truthiness will derive. As the journalism business grapples with a thriving industry of intentionally phony news, seeing it live is about all you can believe. Fifty of the top 200 political videos Unruly tracked originated on Facebook Live.

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Here’s Unruly’s list of the top ten shared campaign videos:

  1. Hillary Clinton – Michelle Obama speech New Hampshire 817,737 shares

  2. Clinton – Mirrors – 555,918 shares

  3. Clinton – Clear Difference – 505,020 shares

  4. Donald J. Trump – FB Live Trump speech Kinston – 494,716 shares

  5. Clinton – Alicia Machado – 441,042 shares

  6. Clinton – Role Models – 396,957 shares

  7. Clinton – Hillary speech denouncing Trump racism – 372,337 shares

  8. Clinton – Barack Obama endorsing Hillary – 366,120 shares

  9. Clinton – What Trump would do as president – 346,108 shares.

  10. Trump – FB Live Trump speech St Augustine – 326,306 shares

I should note this includes all videos, not just ads. Many of these are full speeches, or parts of them. When you only count advertising, Clinton runs the table on Trump. She has all of the top ten. But it’s probably worth noting Trump didn’t run any commercials for the general election until mid-August.

There is something positive in this very, very negative political season, because of the liveness of those videos, though. And that is that voters chose to watch longer pieces of video by, or for, the candidates. Mostly, those were speeches. As fact-free as those things can be, the high viewership shows high interest, and at least, an intention to be informed.

For example, the tenth video on the list, the Trump speech event in St. Augustine, Fl. is one hour and 10 minutes long. Not only was it shared 326,306 times, it was seen 2.1 million times on Facebook. Michelle Obama’s eloquent speech in Manchester, N.H., the most shared video, was 28 minutes long and seen nearly 3.3 million times on YouTube, and, Unruly says, shared 817,737 times.

The issues were rarely discussed in this campaign.  The real issues, actually, never. One of those candidates will win. Media already lost.

Go vote! and let’s try this again. Eventually, we’ll get it right. That’s the real American dream.

pj@mediapost.com

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