Friday, December 2, 2011

They know how to get to you

Just in time for the 2012 presidential election season there is yet another tool at candidates’ disposal to help them get their message to you, and in most instances whether you like it or not.

Methods used by candidates to reach voters are always evolving. In the past few years we have seen the use of text messaging and social media to help candidates personalize themselves to voters.

In fact, a study by the Pew Research Center found that about one-quarter of online American adults used social networking sites to engage with the 2010 election.

With one estimate that half of all Americans will own smartphones by year’s end, geo-targeted mobile advertising is viewed by a growing number of political campaigns as the latest, and greatest, method available to directly reach voters.

Geo-targeted ads are touted as enabling candidates to increase the relevancy of messaging. As a result, more and more campaigns are tapping into the new era of real-time mobile advertising that is geographically relevant to a voter according to where he or she is at a particular moment in time.

So, here is a glimpse at what you could soon expect to see on your smartphone if you consented to sharing your physical location through an app. Let’s say you are picking up your kid from school and up pops an ad about how important education is for a candidate to be your state senator. After you leave school you turn onto the major thoroughfare and you get another ad that reminds you that your governor, who is running for re-election, diverted some road funds to other budgets.

You may also get an ad to let you know that distracted driving is a no-no.

These targeted ads can be sent to you anywhere – even on your way to the polls on Election Day.

Location targeting abilities are also being touted by businesses such as Internet radio company Pandora. The personalized radio service says it can use the growingly popular feature to benefit political campaigns.

Pandora boasts that “political campaign strategists have the option to target voters by state, county and congressional districts, as well as metropolitan survey areas, and designated market areas.”

The company claims that more than 110 political campaigns have run ads this year.

Those numbers, as well as the frequency of smartphone election ads, are certain to skyrocket in an election season that includes more than 80 percent of elected officials at the state and federal levels of government.