How long will it still be called “mass” media? A recent poll found that a tipping point has been reached for political ad campaigns.
For the first time, less than half of the surveyed voters say live TV is their preferred way to watch video content.
Additionally, 29 percent of likely voters report they have not watched live TV in the past week, other than live sports. As one might expect, that percentage increases as the age of the respondent decreases. Forty-three percent of 18-to-24-year olds and 40 percent of 25-to-34-year olds have not watched non-sports live TV in the last week.
Meanwhile, half of all voters visited YouTube in the last week.
The average voter is spending 10.2 hours weekly watching live TV but 12.1 hours watching time-shifted TV, such as digitally recorded shows. Fifty-six percent of voters skip through all the commercials on their DVR shows.
Inside those toplines are the key trends. Live TV watching is down by 3 percent compared to a similar 2012 phone survey, and DVDs are down 5 percent. Watching content on mobile and time-shifted platforms is up: Internet by 35 percent, mobile by 80 percent, tablet by 117 percent, streaming media by 23 percent, and DVR by 6 percent.
The survey’s findings could have a big impact on political campaign spending, which is still heavily oriented toward TV. Pollster Targeted Victory said on its website:
“In our third survey over the last four years on this topic, there’s now little doubt that live TV is losing ground to new technologies that allow viewers to watch video content on their own terms.
“That means, for political campaigns, reaching younger, more diverse, swing voters through live TV advertising alone is problematic.”
This is bad news/good news for political campaigns.
The bad news is that the days of blasting out TV ads in choice time slots — first on broadcast TV, then with cable added to the mix — to reach the vast majority of voters are rapidly waning.
The good news: campaigns now have an opportunity, best represented by the game-changing digital campaigns waged by the Obama-for-President effort, to target their voters more precisely.
In fact, they might even be able to do so indirectly while their voters watch TV. Forty-one percent of likely voters use a tablet or smartphone while watching live TV, with 20 percent doing so regularly.
The bi-partisan poll was conducted by the Republican-focused Public Opinion Strategies, the Democratic Global Strategy Group for Google, the Republican digital firm Targeted Victory, and the Democratic digital company Well & Lighthouse. A third of the national phone survey calls reached cell phone users.