Campaigns have always tried to target voters using readily available demographic data, shopping preferences, zip codes and even television habits. But the expanding complexity of data-mining has allowed campaigns to get up close and personal with voters’ online behaviors in the past years.
Keeping up with the Times
Romney and Obama are still spending massive amounts of money on traditional and television advertising to get their message out there, but most strategist agree using online data to promote their campaign, raise money and persuade voters has been one of the biggest breakthrough’s this year.
President Obama’s website has begun displaying ads to promote his re-election, while Google users looking for information about Romney will come across a 15-second ad to promote his campaign. Both sides are obviously utilizing the data to personalize their marketing, and will be able to track and collect data on a much more intimate level. The ability to target those who actually vote and see immediate results will give the campaigns the ability to not only personalize each message, but know which ones are working and which ones aren’t.
How much are they Spending?
President Obama has an established record with raising money online and although the Obama team has a much bigger digital staff on hand than it did four years ago, as of April they have only spent $300,000, whereas Romney has been reported to have spent almost $1 million on digital consulting. In comparison when you look at the big picture, overall Obama has raised approximately $196 million and spent around $176 million. Romney has gathered a little over $87 million and spent $78 million so far. When you compare these amounts to what was spent online you see that it really is a very small percentage, but that is sure to change as the younger generations become more prominent at the polls. The “Millennials”, those 18 to 30 years old are sure to be a bigger focus in 2016, with the “Baby Boomers” and the Reagan-era created “Generation X”, groups following in a very close 2nd place.
Why is so much money being still being spent on “Old-school” advertising?
In 2008 the group that had the highest turn out at the polls has been dubbed the “Silent Generation”. Those who reached adulthood in the late 1940’s through early 1960’s, they make up over 85% of American’s 65 and older. This generation has traditionally held conservative views about social issues and the government, and an overwhelming number of these Americans are angry with the government. The candidates know they are an important target audience and are spending millions to reach this group, whose presence is not online.