Battling for hearts, minds…and attention.

Much has been written about the changing demographics of our nation and what that means for the political parties as they try to build and expand their voter constituencies in coming years.  But, the battle is not just about winning hearts and minds…it’s also about winning the attention of Americans.

With the explosion of technology, more and more Americans – particularly in the younger cohorts – are multitasking toll free numbers with devices and no longer devoting their attention to a single activity.

Recent research among Americans age 16-45[1] and voters age 18-44[2] illustrates the challenge of reaching younger Americans and capturing their attention.

Young Americans spend 41% of their smartphone, tablet, or laptop time simultaneously watching television – i.e. looking at two screens at once.  That may sound like a great opportunity for cross-platform promotion and reaching these folks via television and online.  But, among these multitaskers, 70% report using their devices for unrelated activities (that is, not related to what they just saw on television) – and the most-cited reason why is to fill time during ad breaks.  Among those who watch shows they previously recorded, more than six-in-ten (62%) report fast-forwarding through the commercials 100% of the time.

What this means is that reaching younger Americans through television advertising alone or even trying to drive online activity through television advertising is a challenge, and is likely to become even more challenging as our relationship with technology continues to grow.  Thus, as campaigns work to figure out what appeals to voters they are also going to have to adjust and figure out how best to reach them.

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[1] Millward Brown’s AdReaction Report, approx N=400 Americans age 16-45 who are multiscreen users (people who own or have access to a TV and a smartphone or tablet); http://www.millwardbrown.com/adreaction/2014/#/

[2] Public Opinion Strategies and Global Strategy Group, Jan 2014; N=360 likely 2014 voters age 18-44.