The Politics of Mobile

Unless you're living under a rock, you know that we here in the US are in an election year. In November, we'll go to the polls to determine whether or not Barack Obama will be assigned to a second term, or Mitt Romney will ascend the the presidential throne. Arguably, Obama was the first president to use the power of technology to not only deliver his message to a younger, more technically savvy audience, but to also change the way that campaigns will be run forever. While we've seen how social media has toppled regimes (Egypt, Syria) and felled promising political campaigns (Weiner), its more important to look at how technology will change the current race for president.

Google recently launch Four Screens to Victory as a part of their Politics and Election Toolkit. It contains a wealth of information on voters and where they get their information which ultimately informs their vote. While its mostly meant to be an advertising solution, there are some interesting tidbits there. For instance, four screen at ad campaigns are 48% more effective in driving campaign awareness. The four screens being TV, PC, Mobile and Tablet. And when it comes to campaign engagement, that number increases to 77%.

Candidates need to move past the now old hat "we just need an app" attitude and toward a more proactive way of engaging their constituents  using mobile. With the  numbers around mobile use increasing, if a candidate is focusing only on print, radio and television, they are missing out on a huge opportunity.

Voters use an average of 14.7 sources of information to help make their candidate selection and are connected to multiple devices through out the tray. Its imperative for campaigns to reach voters where they are. And where are they? On their tablets and phones. And they're watching campaign ads on YouTube and NOT on TV. Voters are spending a lot more media time on their mobile devices than on newspapers and magazine.  With 83% of mobile phone owners being registered voters, its not hard to see that the vote will be lost or won on that powerful little device you're holding in your hand.


Mobile: Black, White & Green

blackmanonphoneThe Digital Divide, those ominous words that plague Black and Brown people on the internet and usually refers to the gap between us and our Caucasian counterparts in accessing information and communication technologies. We hear it everywhere. But really, what does it mean when it comes to mobile? Turns out, not so much.  African-Americans and Latinos are the fastest growing groups using mobile for everything from shopping to product reviews. More than whites you may ask? Yes, more than whites.

Not only are we usingMobilemore, we’re adapting to new shopping technologies at a faster rate than, well, pretty much anyone else, too.

African Americans have, since 2009 been the most active users of the mobile internet and our use of it is growing the fastest. So, the digital divide, as we know it, diminishes when mobile is taken into account. What does this mean for businesses and marketers? It means that’s where your customers are. If you are doing business on the mobile web and are not participating in a multicultural campaign to reach and market to African Americans, you’re doing yourself and your brand a huge disservice.

We’re more interested in interacting with retailers and brands in mobile and while Caucasians prefer not to be contacted, African-Americans are more open to SMS marketing. As a point of entry, research shows that SMS is the desired method interaction of African Americans with women leading the men in these numbers.

By 2015 the buying power of African Americans is expected to reach $1.1 trillion and still not enough marketers are investing in multicultural mobile marketing campaigns. If African-Americans were a country, we’d be the 16th largest country in the world.   82% of us own a cell phone and we use a much wider range of features of our cell phone’s capabilities compared with white cell phone owners.

While we may not be early adopters, once we do adopt we also innovate. Remember the Wire and how the drug dealer’s used an ingenious code to baffle cops while using pagers? This wasn’t a creation of David Simon’s mind. This really happened.

Certainly, the lower cost of mobile devices compared to desktop computers lower the barriers to entry for mobile. But this means that the audience is ripe for the picking. An intelligent, well-executed multichannel campaign can effectively reach a large population that has no problem spending money online. So, why aren’t marketers and brands targeting this audience? Perhaps they don’t know how. It takes a lot more than putting a few black or brown faces in an ad. You need to speak our language without trying too hard or appearing to be fake or phony. Tall order for brands with agencies where there are no Black or Brown faces on the creative team.