In the year 2011, Apple sold more iPods than iPhones in Q1, Netflix mailed 14 million DVDs per year, and videos went viral on YouTube, not TikTok. The technological world has changed — and so has the world of digital advertising. 

As Rising Tide Interactive celebrates its 10th anniversary, the field of digital has evolved dramatically. Rather than look backward, we wanted to look at how the field will evolve for the next decade. For the next 10 years, it’s critical that digital professionals follow voter trends and separate the noise around digital from the true innovations that are shaping the field. Here are three key lessons for the next 10 years based on what we’ve learned from our first 10:

1. Don’t assume that only young people prefer digital channels

Viewers are constantly changing their media consumption patterns. What was relevant today may not even be relevant tomorrow. But one thing we know is that all voters are now digital voters. 

Our 2021 Voters & Media Voter Survey results showed that voters across demographics prefer streaming to broadcast or cable TV, and many have cut the cord entirely. Our research found that 48% of persuadable likely voters were always or mainly watching TV via streaming services, compared to only 27% who always or mainly watch broadcast or cable. And regardless of how voters access TV content, they are often multitasking with a tablet or smartphone. For voters under 50, 46% report they use another device while watching TV at least half of the time.

In 2021, digital media is part of nearly every aspect of our lives, and while powerful it remains fragmented. To ensure we are reaching the majority of the electorate, we must continuously revise our assumptions about how to best reach our most critical voters.

2. Digital ads work best when they feel native to the platform

Great digital ads aren’t just TV ads cut down to 15 seconds and placed on a smaller screen. To be effective, our creative content must feel authentic to the media where it’s placed — that means everything from simple, direct-to-iPhone testimonials on Facebook to highly produced spots on Hulu to sports and gaming themed ads in those verticals. 

Adapting to this reality not only saves campaigns thousands of dollars but also helps them effectively communicate with swing voters who are naturally wary of political content by tailoring creative so that it doesn’t feel like “just another political ad.”

3. Digital persuasion and mobilization can make the difference in tough races, whether they be in red, blue or purple territory

Digital campaigning isn’t just about going viral or getting the most likes — it’s also about reaching and persuading swing voters who may be deeply skeptical of political content. 

In Nevada, we helped Sen. Jacky Rosen speak directly to Latino voters by starting digital communication early and using polling and historical turnout data to target specific messages to segments of the electorate where they would most resonate. In addition to handing Dean Heller his first-ever political loss, Rosen saw early voting turnout among Latino voters more than double from the previous midterm election.

After 10 years, we’ve learned a lot about digital — but we all must continue to learn as practitioners. The last decade has brought tremendous changes. Our Netflix DVD queues have gone away and been replaced by new tools and technologies. With an increasingly digitally segmented population, we must reach our targeted voters where they are: online.

Have more questions? Drop us a line!