The Digital Election As the battle for the White House heats up, Tim Maytom takes a look at how both Republicans and Democrats are embracing data-driven campaigning, and beginning to take the leap onto mobile ike the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics, the US presidential election is one of those events that rolls around every four years to showcase just how far marketing tools have come since the last one. Before we dive into the specifics of what each party and candidate is doing in the 2016 election, let’s take a look at the overall state of US political campaigning, and how a process that’s been going on for almost 250 years has been adapting to the age of digital marketing and harnessing the potential of the mobile phone. The machinery at work in a US presidential campaign is huge and complex. Not only does each candidate have their own considerable operation
working to put out their message to the public, there are also the parties themselves – usually working in concert with the campaign, but notionally separate. In addition, following the 2010 Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, there are also super PACs (Political Action Committees), independent organisations that funnel huge amounts of cash into support for a particular candidate or issue. Super PACs can be sponsored by union organisations or corporations, as well as channelling donations from the general public, but are legally prohibited from coordinating with candidates and their campaigns. What this all means is that there’s a lot of money flowing around, all of it dedicated
to supporting a campaign or furthering an issue, and there are a huge number of vested interests involved: governmental, corporate and public. The government can be accused of lagging behind consumer behaviour, but with so much at stake, any marketers involved in this year’s presidential campaign will surely be aware of the importance of mobile for connecting with the modern consumer, whether for building a brand or delivering a candidate’s message. To get some idea of how mobile could transform this year’s presidential campaigns, we need only look back to the changes that occurred in 2012, when US political campaigning finally woke up and embraced the power of digital marketing and data-driven targeting.
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