November 1, 2018 By Zak Mehan
Just in time for the rapidly approaching midterms, an unexpected new medium has snuck into the political campaign circuit: text messages.
That’s right, the next “ping” you hear from your phone may just be Beto O’Rourke himself. We’re only kind of kidding. Text messages have become a growing trend in political campaigning. But it’s more likely you’ll get a text from a volunteer asking if they can count on your vote, not Mitt Romney dropping in to say “sup.”
The practice of text campaigning, called peer-to-peer (P2P), was used by Barack Obama back in 2008, and Bernie Sanders in 2016. In this year’s midterms, even local campaigns are texting voters. Some experts believe that by 2020, texting will be one of the main avenues of communication between candidate and voter. This represents a significant move away from more traditional methods like phonebanking and canvassing.
What’s behind the shift?
Politicians aren’t the only ones looking to take advantage of the largely untapped text market. Businesses are breaking into the space as well, with great success. In fact, DVD kiosk company Redbox found that a 10-day texting campaign offering customers a limited-time discount on rentals saw more than 400,000 participants.
The question remains: is good ole’ fashioned SMS really the future of political campaigning? Of marketing?
Text messaging is one of the few remaining digital spaces reserved for invited communication only. But, who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all tell our grandkids about the golden olden days: when Game of Thrones was the show to watch, everyone was crazy for pumpkin spice lattes and the only texts in our phone were from friends and family.
Targeted ads are nothing new to those of us who regularly shop online, scroll through social media feeds, or stream television. But we may just be seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hyper-focused advertisements.
Clorox has recently paid to license information from Kinsa, a company that sells smartphone connected thermometers that track users’ symptoms and fevers. Clorox plans to use this data to serve ads in ZIP codes where it seems like flu symptoms are on the rise (disinfecting surfaces, using products like what Clorox sells, is a key way of preventing the spread of illness according to the CDC). This “illness data” will be stripped of any personal information before being packaged up for companies.
Leaving issues surrounding privacy aside, this kind of audience targeting is only going to get more sophisticated over time. From smart speakers to smart toys, Internet of things devices are becoming more and more common in households around the world. These devices aren’t just tools to make our lives more convenient, they can also be seen as rich sources of audience data holding boundless potential for advertisers.
Smart devices know more about you than you may think – what kind of music you like, when you’re hungry and potentially even when you’re bored. Don’t be surprised if the next time you cough while talking to your home assistant you hear an advertisement for cough drops.
Have you ever wanted to purchase a product you saw in a picture online but had no idea where to buy it? Google to the rescue. The company’s new “Lens” tool utilizes a combination of artificial intelligence and computer vision to give users extra information within a picture.
Users can now tap on white dots that appear on “shoppable” items within photos. Lens also allows you to draw around an object in the photo you want to learn more about and have Google search for related information such as other images, web pages and even videos where the object may appear.
Digital monitoring tools are already able to recognize logos in images, but as this technology becomes more accessible and sophisticated brands could soon go well beyond simply tallying and categorizing mentions on social platforms. Information surrounding how company products are portrayed in images could be leveraged to create a more holistic approach to reputation monitoring – you know what they say about the worth of a picture, after all.
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