Tomorrow Britain will go the polls again, almost a year after the Brexit vote. Over the last few weeks the campaigns have been intense, and digital marketing seems to have played a major role, especially for the under-30 voters. But will this online oriented voter be making an objective or biased choice?
Whilst traditional methods of political party campaigning, such as door to door, print and TV are still being used, there seems to be a shift towards more online engagement. It might be the early steps into integrating digital campaign into the campaign strategy of parties, especially since the timelines of this election were extremely brief. Nevertheless, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat (by Jeremy Corbyn) are being integrated more and more in their campaigning, to secure a single-minded message and capture people’s attention.
Facebook already decides which posts are prioritised in your News feed based on what you like, share and comment on different kind of posts from different sources. Because of this personalisation, you will undoubtedly see more related posts based on your previous reading behaviour and you are likely to feel more connected to a certain party and/or leader. Google, Apple, and Amazon have been using personalisation already for years, and is directing searches, products and news feeds in to specific clusters. For example, personalisation led to a 50% jump in iTunes purchases when users where offered recommendations based on their previous purchases, whereas the control group didn’t.
Therefore, you’re more likely to be exposed to information about your political interest, that you have shown before. This might give you the impression you are making the right political choice and since the internet is an overwhelming source to read about the general election online, you won’t feel the need to look elsewhere, such as watching debates or news on TV.
Next to that, the political parties are spending significant amounts of money on digital advertising. This elections’ digital campaign expenditure of Labour and the Conservatives is not known yet, but it is evident they are spending more, based on their Social Media and online advertising presence surrounding this General Election. According to a poll done by UKBusinessInsider.com, more voters have seen Labour’s social media campaign messages (44%) than those of other parties (Conservative 40%). In 2015 the Conservatives spent £1.2 million on Facebook advertising. The Labour Party only £200,000.
While advertising on Facebook by political parties is on the rise, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism claims that Facebook adverts are unmonitored and could be spreading false information. As it is a relatively new part of digital campaigning, there are no rules or regulations. This makes it also disputable.
Imagine when you have four years to fully prepare an integrated election campaign. When objectives are clear, tracking journeys of voters are set up properly, and linked to everything the voter is doing online and in Social Media. And this is what we, digital agencies, are promoting to do.
It is evident, by the sheer volume of content that is appearing online and throughout Social Media platforms in the run up to June 8th, that targeted online campaigns are hugely influential. Personalisation is making a huge leap and has positive attributes. However, can we be sure that this content is informing and not leading us?