Monday, June 16, 2008

The Internet is Changing Politics Too

As if we didn’t already have enough to content with, politics is undergoing change as a result of the Internet. Facebook is one aspect, but not the only one.

View the video here.

In case you missed this video focusing on the presidential campaign on Ad Age last week, you should take a look. It features some major moments of televised political campaigns while focusing on the changes that have taken place just since the last national election. The changes are major and they are leading to a different kind and level of political participation, at least for some segments of the voting population.

Over the weekend Pew released a study of the impact of the Internet on the campaign (get the full report here). There are few surprises, except perhaps the magnitude of the trends. A quote from ClickZ captures the essence of the summary data in the chart:

"What this report confirms in the particular case of politics is that the electoral world is moving in the same direction as the broader Internet world," said Pew Internet & American Life Project Director Lee Rainie. "Everything we are picking up for politics is playing out in the commercial and non-commercial space online in the same ways."

We probably shouldn’t be surprised at that, but in spite of the use all the candidates have made of the Internet, the campaigns may still be underplaying its importance. Michael Bassik, VP of interactive marketing at MSHC Partners said in ClickZ that the percentage of campaign advertising budgets allocated to the Internet has not changed since the last national campaign in 2004.

"When you look at the fact that nearly half of all adults got information about the primary through new media and compare that with fact that the candidates collectively spent less than 2 percent of their ad budgets to advertise on the Internet, clearly there is a tremendous disconnect between the amount of information people want to receive from the Internet and the amount of information candidates deliver to these audiences," said Bassik.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The dollars aren’t yet following the audience—in politics just as in brand marketing. It’s an imbalance that will be remedied over time, but some brands, perhaps some candidates, will lose out by being too slow to grasp the magnitude of the shift.

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