Here's a stat that should raise some eyebrows: around 50 percent of online video views in 2016 will be on mobile devices.
That category includes tablets, but it's dominated by smartphones and their small screens. It means campaigns will have to break some bad habits.
In the past, many campaigns simply took their TV creative and posted it online. That won’t cut it in a mobile-dominated video environment. Simple things like text size, for example, can trip you up. Are the headlines readable? Is the imagery powerful enough to work on a small screen? Is the overall messaging clear enough to come across without sound?
As TV's get bigger and smartphones take over more pockets and purses, the new multi-platform reality requires us to customize content for different channels. We have to do more work to reach the same people, with the audience splintering into ever-smaller niches. Soon we'll each be an audience of one — and plenty of vendors will be happy to charge for the privilege of contacting us.
The Kochs Versus The Republican Party Online
At the beginning of 2015, TechBytes raised a simple question: What happens if the Kochs, who have been building what looks like a parallel party on the Right, break with the actual GOP? There are hints it may happen sooner than later.
We recently learned from Politico that the billionaire brothers’ apparatus actually began to intervene in GOP primaries soon after the 2012 elections. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), for instance, was propelled from the state Capitol in Des Moines into the Senate partly through an early online ad campaign data-targeted by the Kochs’ i360. More recently, the Koch-affiliated AegisPAC was created as a potential answer to the Democratic online fundraising site ActBlue, which is open to any Democrat running at the state or federal level.
ActBlue, which is also a PAC, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for campaigns on the Left. Still, no clear conservative alternative has yet emerged. Will AegisPAC change this situation, at least for the candidates who pass the Kochs’ litmus test?
The rise of a national-scale apparatus with the potential to rival the Republican Party is a big deal, particularly when it's investing in the data and digital infrastructure essential to modern campaigning. Let's see what happens if it really starts to throw its weight around in 2016.
Salsa Merges with DonorPro
News broke early in November that Salsa, a digital advocacy software company, was merging with DonorPro, which provides fundraising management software to nonprofits. Salsa's still a player in the Democratic digital space, with scores of campaigns and hundreds of advocacy groups using its tools for mass email, online fundraising and grassroots management. As a result, the change quickly raised questions about the company's strategic direction.
To suss out the implications, I spoke with Salsa CEO Scott Stouffer, who assured me that the company will continue to work only with Democratic campaigns. In other words, they won't be following rival NationBuilder down the road to partisan neutrality. He did note that the company's current and future focus is on the nonprofit space, however, with politics a secondary market.
Cruz's Grassroots Strength
Last month's TechBytes highlighted Ted Cruz's healthy small-donor base. Since then stories have been popping up about another noteworthy aspect of his campaign — a powerful grassroots component. Cruz's team is thoroughly organizing in the early primary states, even as he's preparing nationally for what could be trench warfare for the Republican nomination.
A small-donor army plus a robust field organization? That sounds like how another first-term senator rode into the White House a few years back. Keep an eye on Cruz, because he's keeping his eye on the long game.
Colin Delany is founder and editor of the award-winning Epolitics.com and a 15-year veteran of online politics.