Obama and Romney Missing Out on Online Video Voter Gold? Here’s 5 Video Tips for the Presidential Campaigns

Obama and Romney Missing Out on Online Video Voter Gold? Here’s 5 Video Tips for the Presidential Campaigns

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Nielsen put out a report last week that talked about presidential candidates and how they preferred TV for their advertising. That got me to thinking, with 178-180 million Americans watching online video, they might be missing the target audience.

Nielsen reports that major presidential candidates have been heavily targeting Spot TV placement, of course, they completely forgot to include online video in their survey. So maybe it’s Nielsen that missed the boat on this one? Here’s their chart that shows a heavily skewed result toward TV but didn’t include anything at all about online video, just TV, cable and Radio.

Share of Presidential Candidate Campaign Ad Units by Media Type

CandidateSpot TVLocal/Regional CableSpot Radio*Total Ad Units^
Newt Gingrich78.8%8.1%13.1%5,978
Barack Obama83.2%15.9%0.9%7,388
Ron Paul76.2%22.0%1.8%5,601
Mitt Romney75.1%13.1%11.8%37,581
Rick Santorum59.1%34.2%6.6%9,231
Source: Nielsen
*Source: Media Monitors Inc.
^Ad units on Spot TV, Local/Regional Cable, Spot Radio and Local Newspapers

So I thought I would go in search of presidential candidates online.

Barack Obama

I’ll start with the Commander-in-Chief because, well, he’s already in office. The Prez has got a Youtube channel with some impressive stats: 199,774 subscribers and 188,620,406 video views.

Unfortunately, Machinima has 4,429,328 subscribers and 3,361,920,502 video views. So clearly they’re not getting the word out like Machinima, whom I chose because they’re a top ten YouTube partner channel regularly. You would think the President could crush a channel aimed mostly at gamers, but it appears not.

If you do a Google search for Barack Obama, they don’t really even own their own SERPS. Biography.com has the top hit followed by IMDB.com and then ABC News on YouTube. In fact, even Jimmy Fallon has a higher SERP than any official White House or Obama Campaign videos. The highest text ad? “Was Obama a Total Stoner?” OK, that was for the search term “Barack Obama” and without quotes it was the the Demstore and Ask.com. Again, clearly they’re not putting enough money into online there.

Mitt Romney

The Republican candidate hasn’t been treated at all well in online video but I’m more interested in how they’re utilizing it themselves. Interestingly, they did better in a general Google Video search holding on to the top two spots in the SERPs with Biography sliding into a third position on the page. The top ad? YouTube Politics. Not surprisingly, Mitt Romeny’s YouTube channel is nowhere near as popular as the President’s. He’s got a lowly 8,014 subscribers and just 8,017,111 video views. Of course, his channel was founded in Aug 15, 2006.

Whoa, hold the phone. Barack Obama’s channel was started Sep 5, 2006, but has 552 times the subscribers and 419 times the views. Then again, the voter base for Mitt Romney probably isn’t as Internet-savvy or maybe just don’t see it as a viable information and entertainment resource.

Remarkably, Mitt Romney has placed over 5 times the number of ads in more traditional media outlets than President Obama has. The Prez had almost completely abandoned radio advertising and also has 2,250 videos on his YouTube channel compared to 137 on Romney’s, 16 times the number one Republican candidate.

To me it looks like we know where their respective voting audiences are. President Obama clearly has a more online-aware campaign and voter base while Mitt Romney’s seems stuck on TV and, of all things, radio.

So I did some Bing searches on both of them to see how the results shook out in the other search engine of note these days. Hulu pretty much dominated both getting the top 10 results for Romney and 8-of-10 for the President. Neither of them had any sort of official results really. To me it seems like Bing is certainly downplaying YouTube in the video results, but is that any surprise?

I decided to, now that I had loaded up the browser with Google and Bing searches pertaining to the presidential race, to go watch some videos and try to find the ads they might be placing online.

Salma Hayek and milk (the actual drink), Chevy and the upcoming Hatfield & McCoy’s mini-series all topped the presidential race across a range of content on Hulu as did Dove soap and Shock Top brewing. Odd considering that the Bing results would have one believe that the presidential race is all over Hulu. So I did a couple Hulu runs of actual videos of the candidates. I chuckled when the Obama administration apology over the Secret Service sex thing was sponsored by Capital One’s Venture card…nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess. I wonder if that was the card in the pockets of the agents that night.

Searching Hulu for Romney…got me a whole season of Rodney. I had to search for Mitt Romney. Geico showed up as did some other stuff as the ads running against the content.

Presidential Candidates Have a Lot to Learn: 5 Video Campaign Tips

Sure, it’s still early and there’s a whole summer ahead to campaign and spend millions on advertising to get your campaign in front of voters, but it seems like it would be best to start doing it already. Here are some tips I think would help both campaigns. These could work for just about any brand that is looking at online advertising and sort of sum up a lot of what I have been tracking or listening to in the online video industry for some time.

1) Find friendly places

In a recent interview for my upcoming video interview series, Reel to Real World, starting next week (hopefully) I do some video advertising coverage and there was a discussion about the overall change in online video advertising from aversion placement (We don’t want to be next to that content) to complementary placement (We do want to be placed next to that type of content). For online video ad placement, they should definitely be seeking out content they want to appear next to in order to be seen by the right kinds of audiences. I would suggest the VEVO and Machinima channels on YouTube, but I don’t think they’d see the actual value in that. What I might also suggest is them looking at placing those ads on campaign-topic focused content, things like jobs, the economy, the never-ending wars. I wouldn’t suggest they place content against things like privacy advocation because clearly, they’re all for spying on America given some recent legislation that has passed. It would just make them both look hypocritical. For Romney, I certainly wouldn’t suggest running ads on any 99% movement video. He’s just become a laughingstock with that crowd. I wonder if they would return the money they’d get for his ads on their videos?

On top of all that, there’s a far finer targeting ability with online video advertising in regards to dayparting, demographics, location, behavior and interests, etc.

2) Conquer the Landscape

Another thing we talked about in some recent interviews was conquest advertising, so for example, you have say a presidential candidate and you want to get him or her in front of the eyes of those who might support the other one, so you buy out all the ad inventory you can on videos featuring that person, so Obama buys out Romney ad inventory and vice-versa. Wouldn’t that be weird? They’d pretty much be paying each other to place ads on the other’s online content. Oh the irony!

3) Realize the Potential

I don’t know if the candidates and their campaigns are aware…but more people watch video online monthly than vote in presidential elections. Doing massive online video advertising would definitely grow their personal reach in regards to the percentage of US population they gets the ads to. After all, it’s not just kids watching video online and engaging that 18-24-year-old demographic couldn’t be easier than it is right now. Place online video ads, Boom, young potential voters are found. But that’s not the only demographic watching online video. A year ago I did a piece that showed online video viewing is growing among all demographics.

As you can see, eMarketer is predicting continued growth across all demographics with more than 50% of all but 65+ watching video online. On top of that, we’re far ahead of their actual predictions for US online video viewing. If you look at the chart below, also from a year ago, you can see that they were predicting just 169.3 million online video viewers in the US this year, but according to last month’s comScore video metrix, the number was actually 180,785,000.

Total votes in the 2008 Presidential Election? 129,391,711.

4) Sound the Bugle! To Arms! To Arms!

The thing that you can do with Internet video advertising that can’t be done as effectively with TV advertising is calling people to take action. With interactive video ads you can get them to click something, sign up for a newsletter, share out to their friends and basically do campaigning for you with them never having to leave the comfort of their desk chair.

On top of that, once you’ve got their location and email address, you can start targeting them with reminders to vote in hopes of getting far more voters to the polls, hopefully for your side. Sure, you can do that through other methods as well like direct mailing based on phone surveys, on-site signups, etc. But again, 180 million present and future voters are already watching video online.

5) Build for the Future

Finally, if you win, or lose, you’ve got a digitally-aware, engaged audience that you’ve built up online. They’ll be used to seeing things from you online and perhaps even more inclined to vote or be active in whatever it is you are doing. However, if you’ve lost, you’ll need to go lick your wounds for awhile before ramping up for another run at the title belt. While you’re doing that, don’t let that engagement level slip. Even if it’s not your particular product that will be in the next election, your particular brand will be. If you really want help out, keep those voters engaged.

Then again, you might just alienate them anyway during an interview where you stick your foot in your mouth. So perhaps you might want to be mostly quiet while licking those wounds until you can gauge the sentiment of the country on a whole. After all, if you say stupid, crazy things… people will think you’re stupid and/or crazy and really, who wants to vote for an idiot nutjob?


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