After spending $77 million on TV advertising—more than any other presidential candidate—Jeb Bush pulled out of the presidential race. That has launched a debate about whether or not TV is still the most powerful force in political campaigning.
Elizabeth Wilner of the Campaign Media Analysis Group says that Bush's flame out provides “positive proof for digital strategists fighting for more respect in the ad budget” and argues that campaign probably should be paying more attention to mobile.
“That said, don’t eulogize so-called ‘wasteful’ or ‘ineffective’ TV advertising just yet,” Wilner says in the Cook Political Report. She notes that TV’s potential impact is diminished in crowded races conducted state-by-state with each candidate reaching out to essentially the same voters. “A two-way battle across 10 or more states is a different story. In the general election, TV ad optimizers will have more room to run,” she says.
Nevertheless, she says campaigns ought to put more attention and money into mobile.
With 65% of American’s owning a smartphone according to Kantar and users opening their mobile Facebook app 18 times a day, campaigns will soon be largely conducted and oriented around phones, Wilner said.
But there are obstacles.
“Buying mobile-specific ad inventory requires using certain technologies, or platforms, which not many campaigns are equipped to do,” she says. “A few presidential efforts, including Ted Cruz’s, are using phones and geo-targeting for mobilization, such as for helping supporters get to caucus and polling locations. Otherwise, 'cutting edge’ in mobile these days means having candidates update their social media accounts from their phones. At least that’s scalable to even the most local campaigns.”
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