Viral Videos Starting to Catch Fire in the Political World

Could 2012 be the year that online video ads take a big bite out of the traditional broadcast model?

The Daily Beast says this year campaign spending on advertising is expected to top $6 billion. Viral video fits nicely into the new way of campaigning.

The catch is that viral videos only reach the most active voters—the folks who are plugged in and following politics, rather than general-election persuadables and undecideds. But that approach is entirely consistent with trends like micro-targeting and the play-to-the-base philosophy propagated by Karl Rove and his inheritors. And there is already evidence of viral videos’ success in shifting presidential-primary momentum.

Now, in the post–Citizens United, super-PAC world, a whole new brew of attack and advocacy ads will be flooding both our inboxes and our airwaves—the sideshow will find more ways to fight its way into center stage and drive the debate.

“Internet videos are a critical component of any modern political campaign, and a good one early on can help introduce a candidate, raise money, raise awareness, and set the tone,” says Ken Kurson, a partner and executive vice president at Jamestown Associates, a national media firm based in Princeton, N.J. “Unconstrained by the shackles of ‘27 seconds plus disclaimer,’ there’s opportunity to be much more creative and substantive.”