"I think the American people will be shocked by such contempt for their intelligence. This isn't Ivory Soap versus Palmolive." – Adlai Stevenson, 1952
Stevenson's quote was in response to the first-ever televised campaign ads, which were produced by Dwight D. Eisenhower. While Stevenson's remark around a newly formed, brand-based culture may have been cogent, his inability to adapt cost him an election as "I Like Ike" emerged as supreme. Harnessing new media has proven a difference-maker in many an election.
The 2008 presidential election will be no exception. The internet is relatively new. Candidates have toyed with it. MoveOn.org has partially validated it as a vehicle for making grass roots waves. However, according to a recent survey conducted by the e-Voter Institute, it's this next election that will mark the golden age of the internet campaign. An overwhelming percentage of the 250,000 respondents said they believe the 2008 election will hinge on the internet.
In addition to expressing their belief that the election would be won or lost online, those surveyed also expressed a series of expectations they had for candidates. More than 85 percent expect candidates to have a website. More than 70 percent expect that they will leverage email. More than two-thirds expect that candidates will use the internet for fund-raising, posting video commercials and running online campaign ads. More than half expect candidates to blog and share podcasts, and the web is seen as second only to TV as the "most effective medium" for campaign advertising, and as a source for researching candidates-- it's becoming the trusted destination.
The political web's missing link: rich media
Rich media advertising technology sits at the intersection of voters' high expectations and the promise of full-scale online candidacies. It is emerging as the strategic and tactical missing link to deliver votes via the online channel. Furthermore, its flexibility and depth can engage voters at unprecedented levels, especially by:
- Making a candidate accessible to voters anywhere on the web, offering new, local or "global" strategic opportunities for canvassing.
- Creating an easy conduit for fundraising.
- Carrying unprecedented amounts of interactive functionality, including instant polling, interactive video, click-to-call and chat/instant messaging. Importantly, this means that voters can do all of this, too, through an ad unit-- they can research, email friends about the candidate, take part in shaping the candidates message.
- Ensuring that voters spend time with a candidate. Rich media ad units are interacted with for significantly greater amounts of time than a conventional print, television or standard online banner ad.
- Getting out the vote by enabling online voter registration directly from ad units.
Nearly anything that can be done in a physical campaign can now take place in the virtual campaign, thanks to rich media technology, and it is. Connell Donatelli, a Washington-based political advertising agency, is leveraging rich media for three candidates: Lynn Swann (Pennsylvania), Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania) and Dick DeVos (Michigan). They are on display here.
Good for the people and great for the candidate
Rich media's ability to immerse voters in near-3D candidate experience and get them involved will make it a significant tool on the 2008 campaign trail. Yet it's rich media technology's "back end" that make it a comprehensively great tool for candidates. Voters can be reached nationally and targeted regionally (East or West Coast) or locally (by zip code) with customized messages.
Rich media also allows campaigns to change those messages on the fly. For example, if a campaign were to deliver an instant poll via a rich media ad unit in a specific city, by that afternoon, it could roll out a full rich media ad campaign that touches on the hot button issues of that locale. If the issue were to change overnight, rich media technology can measure as much and, in turn, the campaign could also be changed-- on the fly. The message becomes active and organic, not static. It's able to move with the flow of a campaign and serve as the very real, tangible version of it in online world without the asynchronous delays currently inherent in print or broadcast mediums.
Political dialogue reborn
As rich media technology continues to emerge as a pivotal vehicle for candidates seeking election online, an uncommon, unique and deep dialogue will begin to emerge between the candidate and that candidate's constituents. In doing so, this two-way attribute of rich media instantly warms up what otherwise seems like the static, cold world of the internet. Once users encounter it, they feel comfortable and they participate in the dialogue and, through its ability to measure and analyze attitudes and reactions, it arms candidates with empirical and meaningful data that can be leveraged instantly while effectively winning votes or raising funds.
PointRoll CEO Chris Saridakis guides the rich media technology leader’s vision and strategy while shaping and developing its product offerings and service. A rich media and online advertising veteran, Chris recently key-noted the Campaign and Elections Magazine and E-Voter Institute’s “All Things Political Seminar,” held in San Diego, discussing the power of rich media tied to political campaigning. Go here for more information on PointRoll's political campaign suite of products known as Voter Impact. visit. Read Chris' full bio.