The Effect Of Digital Marketing On Political Campaigns

Political parties in Nigeria have deployed digital technologies for more than a decade, developing increasingly sophisticated tools and techniques during each election process. However, the most recent election marked a critical turning point, as several candidates, political parties, and other interest groups were able to take advantage of significant breakthroughs in data-driven marketing techniques. The strategies, technologies, and tools of digital political marketing are more complex and far-reaching than anything we have seen before. Most commercial and political digital operations take place below the radar, they are not fully understood by the public.

Data-Driven Marketing and Politics

Though political campaigns have employed micro-targeting techniques—which use an array of personalized and other data sets and marketing applications to influence the actions of individuals—during the last several election cycles, recent technological innovations and industry advances have created a much more robust system than what was in place before. The Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] to some extent, have been able to combine public voters files with commercial information from data industries, to develop detailed and comprehensive archives of Nigerians. With recent advances in the advertising technology and data industries, they can now take advantage of a growing infrastructure of specialty firms offering more extensive resources for data mining and targeting voters. Among such entities are banks, jumia, travel agencies, telecoms and so on. The growth and increasing sophistication of the digital marketplace has enhanced the capacities of political campaigns to identify, reach, and interact with individual voters. Below we identify six key techniques that are noteworthy of this new digital political marketing system, providing brief illustrations of how they were employed during the 2019 Nigeria election.

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Geo-location Targeting

Political parties have been able to collect and analyze data about individuals from a wide variety of online and offline sources, including first-party data from a customer’s own record, including race and ethnicity. All of this information have been matched to create highly comprehensive target audience segments and to identify and indulge voters.

Facebook and Google are not left out in political operations. Not surprisingly, these companies have also made generating revenues from political campaigns Facebook has a powerful and simple targeting system, enabling political campaigns to access its millions of audience and get them to individually by age, dgender, interests, location, and interests. Google through google ads and its partnering sites is not left out. We kept seeing various ads reaching out to both adults and children.

Online Video Advertising

Digital video, via mobile and other devices, is perceived as a highly effective way of delivering emotional content on behalf of brands and marketing campaigns. There are a variety of online video ad formats that provide both short- and long-form content, and that works well for political and other brands. Google’s YouTube and Facebook has become a key platform for political ads as more people are watching mobile videos. Political parties seized on these platforms to influence the political opinions of potential voters.

Outbound/Display Advertising

Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media and more. Unlike text-based adsdisplay advertising relies on elements such as images, audio, and video to communicate an advertising message. Several parties, especially the All Progressive Party [APC] used picture display advertising such as newspaper, magazine ads, TV commercials, static banner ads, animated ads, interactive/flash ads, mobile ads, expanded ads and lots more.

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Bulk SMS

We probably all got a message from INEC and other political parties encouraging us to come and vote. That would not have been possible if they do not have our statistics somewhere. Every serious politician in Nigeria is starting to realise the habit of list building in order to improve their social and community engagement with their constituencies. List-building is the process of gathering an unlimited amount of followers for the purpose of delivering important news, products or events. We figured some parties had this going on all these while. All details would probably be kept in the mud until the next election. It is well.

Emotion-Based Targeting

Psychographics, mood measurement, and emotional testing have been used by political parties for many decades, and have also been a core strategy in political campaign advertising. A greedy one at that, these parties will deliberately not provide basic social amenities for its citizens. when it’s time for elections, they bribe people with money, food etc just to trigger a range of emotional and subconscious responses. Sadly, emotional betrayal or slavery as I love to call it is a strategy for these so-called leaders. We have seen this happen for many decades and this past election was not left out.

We have identified that the use of “psychological targeting” in advertising enables the influencing of large groups of people especially the Northern part of Nigeria by tailoring persuasive appeals to their basic and psychological needs.

Targeted TV Advertising

The advertiser knows which programmes the target audience is watching and can select advertisements for those programmes and they advise these political parties on the best time to run their campaigns. Although this advertising does not require access to customer profiles and viewing data on all the viewers. However, it might interest you to know that the owners of those media houses know their audience. They can go a step further by sending specific campaigns only to viewers in the target audience. Generally, data on income, postal code, viewing behavior, age group, and other characteristics tell the advertiser which households are in its target audience so that it can select the advertisements to broadcast to them. The last election, people were targeted regardless of the programme we were watching. Political parties, APC, PDP and the likes buy a target audience rather than the advertising space around a programme, and are better able to monetise the full potential of their advertising inventory.

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