Glen Wilson, Posterscope MD, discusses how digital out-of-home advertising platforms offer political parties the chance to tweak policy messages like never before.
With less than a year to go until the 2015 general election, and following Ukip’s win at the European elections, Britain’s political parties are already drawing battle lines. However, this time they are armed with the latest advertising technology. Just as Obama’s 2012 victory was boosted with social media, next year’s election will be fought with a world first: a powerful combination of real-time data and digital out-of-home (DOOH) advertising platforms. This means parties will gain the ability to react instantly to opponents’ announcements, dialling up campaign messages based on political polls or real-time social media sentiment analysis. This has the potential to revolutionise political campaigns, like we’ve never seen before.
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has a long history in UK political campaigns, with billboards and posters featuring prominently in many UK elections. In 1979, the famous “Labour isn’t working” poster helped Margaret Thatcher achieve electoral victory and in 2001, Labour’s controversial mash-up of Margaret Thatcher and William Hague made headlines. In fact, OOH has become such a key part of election campaigns that political parties spent £7m on outdoor adverts in 2010, equivalent to nearly a third of total political ad spending.
Today, OOH remains one of the most popular and powerful political campaigning channels. This has been demonstrated in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections, with Ukip’s successful campaign and controversial national billboard poster campaign. Funded by businessman Paul Sykes, the campaign features a series of provocative statements about the European Union and the impact it is having on UK families.
With TV campaigning opportunities limited to the party debates, it’s unsurprising politicians choose to focus on OOH efforts. However, campaigners also recognise this method has the ability to reach a large audience where they spend a significant percentage of their time: out of their homes.
In the US, DOOH was hugely important during the 2012 elections. Digital signage and digital billboards were a significant component of political campaigning. For example, Mitt Romney’s campaign used digital billboards in states such as Florida and Colorado to coincide with Obama’s campaign rallies, while Obama’s campaign launched a digital advertising campaign throughout the DC Metro system to target voters in Northern Virginia. Rock The Vote, an organisation which aims to encourage young people to vote, also capitalised on DOOH during the election to raise awareness with young voters. Its “We Will” campaign, which aimed to defy voter suppression, incorporated digital billboards in high visibility areas.
With access to big data insights from polling information, together with the flexibility of using a digital screen, English political parties will be able to increase or decrease the severity of campaign messages depending on how they resonate with the public, and tweak policy messages depending on public sentiment. They’ll also be able to drill down into location-based data, which will provide parties with the flexibility to address specific local issues, and strengthen the campaign in areas where they might not be polling strongly enough.
There is no doubt this technology, powered by real-time information, has huge potential for British politicians. We will no doubt see ads that are more innovative and more targeted than ever before. I can’t wait.
Via: The Guardian