Surely, I’m not the only one who wishes we had more time before the inevitable onslaught of political ads ahead of us. It feels like we’ve been in a constant state of poli-comm overload since 2016. Can you remember a time when politics didn’t command a news cycle?
As we near the primaries and eventual midterms this November, I’ve compiled some predictions to help you feel more prepared.
Campaigns will continue micro-targeting.
At its core, political advertising is no different from advertising for anything else. Brands need to share a convincing message that causes audiences to take action. As more of our lives move online, we create a larger digital footprint that includes data about our preferences and habits. (Read about protecting your data here.) Micro-targeting happens when brands and campaigns use data to ensure their messages are shown to their desired audiences, with a lot of specificity. Don’t be surprised when you see an ad that feels like it was made for you, because chances are, it was.
Democrats will increase their emotional appeals.
It’s no secret the Republican Party has a skill for tapping into voters’ emotions. Democrats, on the other hand, struggled with that nuance in the past. I’m predicting that we’ll see a renewed effort by Democrats to utilize emotional persuasion. Look for communication that references the losses experienced in the pandemic, fear from the Jan. 6 insurrection and frustration/sadness about continued racial injustices. We’ll see if these emotional plays will land with voters or not.
Republicans will toe the line between embracing and rejecting Trumpism.
Since leaving office, President Trump has remained an installation in the political conversation. Something to watch for this campaign cycle is how Republican candidates acknowledge him in their messaging. Will they embrace him or reject his claim on the Republican base? Personally, I’ll be looking to see how long it takes campaigns to declare for or against the former president.
Academics will continue to debate the impact digital platforms have on outcomes, while digital platforms continue to impact political outcomes.
This may not be at the forefront of everyone’s timelines, but for this poli-comm nerd, it’s a hot topic. It’s no question that our democratic process has been influenced by social media. But how far will these private platforms go to protect freedom of speech and expression at the risk of allowing misinformation and disinformation to run rampant?
Campaigns and PACs will attempt TikTok.
In my opinion, only Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) were successful in their presence on the platform in 2020. Maybe that worked because they were both running an approachable campaign, and maybe it worked because both are under 55 years old. Since 2020, the app has only increased in popularity, so I’m anticipating a larger effort to bring political ads to your “For You” page (FYP).
Whether you’re the type of person who mutes the TV during political ads or someone who intentionally seeks them out online (okay, maybe that’s just something I do), you can bet political communication is about to overtake our airways and timelines. I hope this post has given you some things to think about as the 2022 election cycle revs up.