What will drive traffic to campaign websites this cycle, according to digital consultants, is video. But they aren’t talking about B-roll of the candidate and his family strolling through a bucolic field.
It has to be compelling footage. It has to be personal. It has to be shot by a drone. Okay, maybe that last point is a bridge too far.
But campaigns take note: brands ranging from Wal-Mart to BMW to General Mills and Nike have recently aired ads that include video shot by drones. Moreover, the use of commercial drones is expected to increase given the proposed loosening of the rules governing them by the FAA.
Media consultants have started incorporating the so-called quadcopters into TV spots. GOP consultant Fred Davis recalled to Politico recently how Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) had to dodge a drone that was capturing footage during a 2013 ad shoot. (Drones will be a topic at C&E's upcoming CampaignTech East conference in April.)
Still, campaigns don’t need to rely only on their media consultants to shoot quality video with commercial drones. They can do it themselves and, with a modest outlay, generate content for a campaign YouTube or Facebook page. Here are a handful of the commercial drone models you might want to look at if you’re considering entering the market:
DJI’s Phantom 2 Vision
It has an attractive price point at $799 and comes with a 14MP camera that records video in 1080p HD that can be angled with the remote. This model flies up to 25 minutes on a single charge, although there’s a package that includes an extra battery for $899. There’s no need to buy an expensive action camera for this drone.
3D Robotics’s Iris
This could be the most budget-friendly drone on the market. It starts at $750 and comes ready to fly. The battery allows for a 16-22 minutes flight time so it’s not meant to buzz a long rally. 3D Robotics’ is an American company with an attractive backstory. It was co-founded by Jordi Munoz, an immigrant from Mexico, who has built it up into one of the industry’s leading manufacturers. Note that the base model doesn’t include a camera.
Parrot’s BeBop Drone
This quadcopter comes with a 1080p fisheye camera that records video with a 180° field. The drone itself retails for $499.99. But if you want the fancy remote, it’ll be about double that entry price. Still, the remote isn’t actually necessary to fly the drone, which can be piloted by a smartphone app.