Social network video dissemination certainly wasn’t the reason Barack Obama won the election, but his campaign’s deft use of it played a role in the senator’s success, according to digital video expert Rajeev Kadam.
Kadam, CEO of divinity Metrics, which tracks online video uploads and views for advertisers, said his company analyzed more than 200 online video platforms during more than 400 days of the presidential campaign. The firm analyzed not only the number of videos uploaded by the McCain and Obama campaigns, and by amateurs, but also the numbers of views they attracted.
According to divinity, 104,454 videos about Obama were uploaded during the campaign, and these were viewed about 889 million times. The 64,092 videos about McCain were viewed 554 million times.
“You can see just how much Barack Obama did with social video,” said Kadam. “He was very, very participatory in that field and it really did help him with younger audiences.”
Kadam said McCain’s videos attracted a “slightly older audience” than did Obama’s. Not much of a surprise there, but Kadam said he was impressed with the sheer number of video uploads and views the campaigns engendered.
Men were responsible for the overwhelming majority of campaign video viewing. This was true for both candidates, as female viewers never exceeded 25 percent of the total for either Obama or McCain.
Kadam noted both candidates were the subject of many YouTube videos, created both by their campaigns and by amateurs. He said a large number of videos were posted and later deleted. This happened mainly to amateur videos showing campaign staff mistakes, to those with distasteful content, and to those violating copyrights.
Spikes in viral views of Obama videos happened during the primary campaign in March as people sought videos related to speeches by Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s reactions. Another spike occurred at the end of May, when pastor Michael Pfleger bashed Hilary Clinton, according to divinity.
For the presidential campaign, divinity Media “measured across the entire landscape of video,” said Kadam. “YouTube is one of the biggest of the 200 platforms, but there are other sites out there.” He mentioned Dailymotion.com, Metacafe, peer-to-peer platforms like BitTorrent, and MySpaceTV.
So what can advertisers learn from the campaign video research? “The importance of identifying audiences and figuring out how to strategically engage them,” said Kadam. “The political candidates are very much like brands. They want to go out and get their messages heard. Brands are in the same position.”