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Half of Aussies open to political ads

News, 01 June 2016

SYDNEY: The voting decisions of more than half of adult Australians could be swayed by political advertising according to new research ahead of the July Federal elections.

Mumbrella commissioned a survey from YouGov to establish how influential party campaign advertising would be in the voting decisions of Australians. Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents said it would have no influence at all – scoring it at one on a scale of one to ten – while 7% indicated it would be very influential.

But 57% scored political ads at five or above, which, Mumbrella said, meant they were "open to some form of marketing influence in their political decision making".

That was especially true of younger people, with almost 70% of 18-24 year olds ranking party advertising at five or more; that dropped to 46% of 45-54 year olds and to 44% for the over 55s.

"It's not very surprising that the people most resistant to political advertising are older folk, and I think it's because they are more jaded," said Steve Allen, head of Fusion Strategy.

He added that "the most dramatic thing" to emerge from the survey was the large proportion – 45% – of undecided voters.

Adam Ferrier, global chief strategy officer and partner at Cummins & Partners, suggested that gaining share of mind could be an effective strategy for parties.

"When people are undecided, they tend to go with the brand that is more prevalent in their mind and that applies to elections as well – they will decide based on what they remember more of," he said.

But influencing undecided voters is only one of the many roles that political advertising plays, as Lynton Crosby has demonstrated in both Australia and the UK.

In the 2015 UK election, a Conservative poster depicted Labour leader Ed Miliband tucked into the breast pocket of former SNP leader Alex Salmond; such advertising, Crosby said, "can get conversations started in the press and on TV because journalists get excited by it".

The prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition wasn't a significant topic of media discussion until the Conservatives began their advertising on the subject, noted Benedict Pringle, the founder of politicaladvertising.co.uk, in Market Leader.

In addition to shaping the media agenda, Pringle added, political advertising can also be a tool to motivate activists and demotivate opposition supporters and to interfere with competitors' strategies.

Data sourced from Mumbrella, Guardian, Market Leader; additional content by Warc staff