Current Affairs: Digital Marketing’s Role in the US Presidential Elections

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Just as marketing has evolved over time, so have the US presidential elections. Candidates are doing everything possible to speak to the masses, specifically young adults, who play an incredibly decisive role in the election process. These candidates have learned that the best way to reach this segment of the population is through digital media. From fliers, to pamphlets, to advertisements in newspapers, radio, and television, marketing strategy has come a long way. The latest strategy in political campaigning is digital marketing, and its role in the elections is extremely significant.


Understanding digital marketing

The Internet is now an essential part of our daily lives, and digital media has emerged as a space where a great deal of action is taking place. Most companies, both large and small, are reaching out to their target audiences through aggressive marketing on digital platforms. Marketing can take the form of social media posts, videos, or image sharing, and engaging the audience by answering their questions and concerns. Along with conventional marketing mediums, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Reddit have become increasingly prevalent.

With a trend towards global digitalization, digital marketing services have emerged in many parts of the world. Every minute, an estimated 650,000 search queries are made on Google, more than 700 videos are hosted on YouTube, over 700,000 status updates and 500,000 comments are posted on Facebook, over 65,000 tweets are made worldwide, and approximately 180 million e-mails are sent. These figures emphasize the significance of digital media as a marketing tool, which explains why spending on digital marketing has increased over the past few years. According to analysts at Technavio, the global digital marketing spending market, which stood at $200.8 billion in 2015, will reach $306 billion by 2020, recording a CAGR of over 8%.


Digital marketing and the US presidential elections

To trace how digital marketing strategy has influenced the US presidential elections, we can look back to 2008. That year, the presidential elections witnessed the aggressive use of the digital media on the part of Barack Obama and his team. In fact, President Obama is often credited as being the first president to have leveraged social media successfully. He made use of the popular networking site, Reddit, in order to reach out to young adults and minority groups in the US. Since then, digital media has been used as a powerful marketing platform by every candidate in every single subsequent election.

One thing that all of this year’s presidential candidates have had in common is that they have used creative digital marketing strategies in order to address the issues that matter to them most, share their outlook, connect with their followers, and even take jabs at other candidates. In fact, it is estimated that around $11.4 billion is being spent on political ads in the 2016 presidential election. This is nearly 20% more than the amount spent in previous elections. The amount spent on social media alone is around half a billion, which is approximately 600% more than what was spent in the 2012 elections. These figures re-emphasize the fact that digital marketing has emerged as a fundamental part of the US presidential elections.

Some of the popular digital marketing strategies include email marketing, YouTube, post-click campaigns, Periscope for livestreaming campaign events, hashtags on Instagram, and actively engaging followers on FB, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. One major advantage to these strategies is that candidates are able to increase the duration and effectiveness of their campaigns. Most importantly, candidates can reach out to their target audience directly, something that traditional campaigning mediums did not allow.

Overall, the use of digital marketing in this year’s US presidential elections is a reflection of how technology has influenced the political arena, and is a trend that will surely continue for many decades.

View the 2016-2020 Global Digital Marketing Spending Market Report