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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How ‘Viral Video’ Can Give Dems Edge

For those of us who are a little behind in understanding the use of viral video and other new video tools in politics, Peter Leyden’ Blog at NDN provides a good introduction here. Leyden, director of the New Politics Institute, paints an interesting picture of the unfolding communications technology leading up to the 2008 elections:

Emotionally powerful, visually complex video has finally arrived on the internet – and it’s moving fast. Those in politics will need to hustle to keep up with it.
This urgency is particularly important today, because the forty-year reign of broadcast and cable television thirty-second ads is coming to a close. Among other things, the spread of digital video recorders (DVRs) like TiVo allows an increasing chunk of Americans to skip ads altogether. By the 2008 election roughly one-third of all American households will have DVRs, and the percentage of likely voters with them will be even higher.
Understanding video also requires understanding how people are accessing video. NPI Fellow Tim Chambers tells us that “by the 2008 election, more than 90 percent of the mobile phones used in the U.S. will be internet-enabled…by 2011, 24 million U.S. cellular subscribers and customers will be paying for some form of TV/video content and services on their mobile devices.” At that point mobile video services combined would have more than 3 million more users than the largest cable operator in the U.S. does today.

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to visualize the potential power of such tools for creating buzz for candidates and campaigns with limited budgets. And it can cut both ways. Leyden notes that George Allen’s “macaca moment” was first publicized through “viral video” (wikipedia also has an informative entry on the term here). Leyden introduces the first installment of NPI’s new series “Re-Imagining Video” with former Hollywood producer Julie Bergman Sender’s more in depth piece on the subject “Viral Video in Politics: Case Studies in Creating Compelling Video” Readers can link to the PDF from this summary.

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