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YouTube still attracts the political dollar

News, 22 December 2016
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WASHINGTON DC: YouTube, the Google-owned video site, was the single largest platform apart from the TV networks for political video adspend during the recent election, yet its status as a cultural influencer is waning.

That is according to numerous political campaign sources, who spoke to AdExchanger about the most effective channels they used for communicating their messages.

Molly Schweickert, Head of Digital at Cambridge Analytica and a digital buyer for the Trump campaign, explained that his campaign used YouTube to target voters by segmenting them by geography or voting persuasion.

For example, a known supporter would receive an ad with directions to a polling location, while an undecided voter would be sent a relevant clip about an issue.

She said that YouTube stood out from other video sources "due to the high quality of inventory and ability to measure results".

Democrats also made much use of the platform and Keegan Goudiss, the former Director of Digital Advertising for Bernie Sanders' primary campaign confirmed that YouTube "played a large role in Bernie's paid and organic strategy" because it is the second most trafficked site in the US.

But while YouTube drew in the political campaign dollars, it seems it was supplanted by Twitter and Facebook this year in terms of connecting to the real political pulse of the country.

Donald Trump used Twitter prolifically, and both Twitter and Facebook were social media sites that dealt with plenty of trolls and other politically charged content.

According to AdExchanger's political contacts, YouTube just didn't drive cultural relevance this year in the way it did in 2012 or 2008, partly because of the authentic feel of videos on social media sites like Facebook.

"While campaigns and politicians may be accustomed to more polished, produced video, Facebook and others changed the game on videos feeling less polished and more authentic," explained Ben LaBolt, a partner at digital agency Bully Pulpit Interactive and a former press secretary to President Obama.

That said, a source at the Republican National Committee told AdExchanger that YouTube remained a good way to distribute video clips to TV network sites or to get attention on Twitter. "YouTube was like the fuse, but not the dynamite," he said.

Data sourced from AdExchanger; additional content by Warc staff

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