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Here’s How Our Political Landscape Is Shifting Online Behavior

The U.S. political landscape impacts global consumer behavior online, according to new research by Adobe Digital Insights (ADI).

ADI analyzed aggregated and anonymized consumer data using Adobe Analytics Cloud and Adobe Advertising Cloud to better understand how politics affects Internet use and online advertising across multiple industries.

One main finding: While the media and entertainment industry as a whole has seen a 7% decline in web traffic year over year, traffic to national news sites is up 22%, which also happens to be higher than any other industry examined in the analysis.

“What’s interesting is that the growth in traffic to national news sites isn’t just coming from consumers in the United States,” said Juliet Fletcher, an analyst at ADI. In fact three out of 10 visits to national news sites come from outside the U.S., the study uncovered.

“As the marketing industry heads into holiday 2018 and the midterm elections, we also wanted to quantify the effect the elections might have on e-commerce,” Fletcher said. Total visits to retail sites typically dip the day after the election (-6%), with traffic back to normal by the Friday after the election (+8%), she said.

“In the past two years we also saw that revenue per visit on smartphones dipped 15% to 20% on Election Day,” suggesting more browsing and lower conversion, but it will recover by the weekend,” she said.

The political landscape also has repercussions for marketers’ budgets. For example, the cost per impression (CPM) on national news sites is steadily increasing as we approach the midterm elections. CPMs for political websites, specifically, are up almost 100% in the past two years, while all other categories during the same time period have been slowly declining. CPMs are expected to decrease the week of the midterm elections, the data found.

“Advertisers could take advantage of the lower CPMs during election week but would have to battle with engagement,” explained Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst at ADI. “Consumers tend to turn their backs on advertising during the first half of election week.”

For example, in past years engagement and click-through rates for video display ads have dropped the Sunday to Wednesday of election week, then typically came back up by Thursday. The same is predicted this time around.

As part of its analysis, ADI also looked at the demographics and psychographics that advertisers are targeting most; young Republicans (18 to 24 years old) are currently the most sought-after audience. The reason, Schreiner explained, is that “their behavior online as a group is slightly more consistent and not as fragmented in terms of content consumption, making them easier to reach but also more expensive.” Indeed, the young Republican cohort is nearly twice as expensive to reach compared with Democrats of the same age group.   

To complement its analysis, Adobe Advertising Cloud surveyed 1,000 Americans using its survey tool to better understand how consumers felt about political ads. Among the findings: Respondents who intended to vote but had not decided who they were voting for were 18% less likely to be turned off by a political ad than those who have decided.

Additionally, male respondents were 54% more likely to be persuaded by an ad than female respondents, and women were 19% less likely to relate to political ads than men.

As for ad recall and reach, older audiences were more likely to say they had seen political ads on TV, with 71% of those 73 and older who said so, compared with just 20% of those 18 to 21 who recalled seeing an ad on TV. Women were 32% more likely than men to have seen political ads on social media  

“The key takeaway for marketers here is that politics is influencing how and when people get their news, and it also affects their expectations on the type of advertising they'd like to see,” Schreiner said. “It is imperative that marketers understand and adapt to this trend, because it directly affects their business.”

View the full report below, or click here to view it on SlideShare

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