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IS THE WEB THE NEW POLITICAL BATTLEGROUND?

BY BEN BRIGGS, PLANNING & BRAND PARTNERSHIP DIRECTOR.

You may have been one of millions who have seen the recent doom-laden Conservative web ads attacking Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to national security. If so, you’ll be aware of a sea change in political campaigning – specifically the way political parties have finally understood how to harness the power of both granular targeting and Facebook’s relentless desire for primarily visual content.

The new targeting abilities mean that for the first time, ‘swing’ voters in the more marginal seats will see hyper-relevant (even down to postcode level), visual-heavy messaging, ensuring lack of wastage for political marketers.

This rapid growth in technology allows data from multiple sources to be combined, bringing together marketing, polling, census and social data into one super-efficient pool and creating a detailed picture of a potential voter.

Although it’s wrapped up in shiny new technology, these principles are ones marketers have adopted for decades – understanding the consumer through every bit of available information and reaching them at the point they’re most likely to react.

What has changed, however, is that, where once you’d arrive home to find your doormat littered with flyers, the web is now the primary battleground for your attention.  This could have a few key implications.

Aggressive and negative ad campaigns could become the norm – as is the case in America. These ads are effective to “buy attention” online, and will become more prevalent. Linked to this, we may see a rise in emotional appeals, in tune with the content that works best on social media.

A new nimble model may see political micro-messaging take the place of the big campaign poster reveals of yesteryear – quick, targeted ads updated daily and unscreened by any regulator.

In time we may even see AI take over, reading social chatter and building/broadcastings ads around the key talking points – bots may even take this to a more granular level, being deployed across social and in chat rooms to pipe in whenever a user raises a politically salient point.

However, it’s good to know some things will remain constant in the world of politics– mud slinging, point scoring and an inability to answer questions directly. In fact maybe the Bots could replace the panel on Question Time without anyone noticing. Watch this space.