Advances in ad tech have played a critical role in the inner workings of political campaigns of late, and will continue to do so as voters are increasingly mobile-first and eschew linear TV for digital news and entertainment options.
The Trump presidency has opened the door to a host of unconventional candidates who, with the right name recognition, message, and use of social media, may have an easier time winning the public over.
What if we combined the two trends, with a political newbie whose tech background would help him or her take full advantage of digital campaign tactics? Would such a candidate have a legitimate shot at winning the presidency?
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has raised eyebrows as he plays all the right chords necessary to jump-start a presidential run.
While Zuckerberg continues to downplay any chance of a political campaign (as President Obama did in the years and months prior to announcing his bid), the 33-year-old tech exec hasn't been able to quell the prospect of Zuckerberg 2020.
Centro founder and CEO Shawn Riegsecker, an ad-tech exec who's thinking of running for the Senate in 2020 as an Independent, shared his thoughts on Zuckerberg’s politically astute moves and the potential for tech candidates with RTBlog.
RTBlog: Is a Zuckerberg presidential run plausible to you, whether in 2020, 2024 or beyond?
Riegsecker: Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question he’s preparing for it and playing with the concept. At 33, he’s also young and has time on his side. His trips to rural America this year and his Harvard commencement speech are no coincidences.
RTBlog: Are there any other tech-industry executives with name recognition who you think have a shot at political office?
Riegsecker: Marc Benioff is the most prominent name that is discussed. Sean Parker is very active. Marc Merrill at Riot Games is a strong potential Independent candidate.
RTBlog: What advantages, if any, would these types of candidates have, considering the importance of ad targeting and effective messaging in political campaigns?
Riegsecker: The advantage is, they’re all forward-thinking, technology-savvy candidates who have built careers on breaking molds and disrupting the status quo. At the least, I feel they would run 21st-century-style campaigns with digital guerilla tactics advanced from what’s been done up to this point. The amount of political dollars being wasted on traditional TV and direct mail is absurd.
RTBlog: If not for a political endeavor, why do you think Zuckerberg is hiring scores of political operatives and acting like a potential candidate?
Riegsecker: From a Facebook standpoint, they need to protect their hegemony in the social, mobile and soon-to-be video industry. So ensuring he has a team of political insiders lobbying on behalf of Facebook is just smart business and critical to their future.
As for acting like a potential candidate, the office of the U.S. President is the most powerful position from which one can influence the world. The mission of Facebook is to connect the world.
As I know intimately being a founder [myself], it’s impossible to completely separate the mission of the company from the mission of the founder. The mission, values and principles will forever be entwined. He may see the opportunity to change the world in a bigger, better and more impactful way sitting in the Oval Office.