I’ve been thinking more about my reflections last month on Danny Cohen, the Israeli American computer scientist who died nearly three months ago at the age of 81. Cohen, as I had detailed, operated – on a computer — the first real-time flight simulator and first time radar simulator. His embryonic work in computer graphics laid the stage for his later work that, in turn, was the basis for the streaming media that made innovative and trend-setting media like VSH, Beta, floppy disks, DVDS at first conventional and then obsolete. What Cohen set in motion not only spawned YouTube but had so many more effects – changing the world of television and cannibalizing brick and mortar movie theaters.
What would Cohen think about the continuing evolution of what he helped set in motion?
Remember when the big thing was to have costly entertainment centers in cars? The back seats of large SUVS had screens. And remember when airplanes had screens and everyone watched the same thing at exactly the same time. Now kids just bring a laptop, tablets or even a smart-phone in the car and watching recorded movies or streaming video. And airplanes let you use the same, or watch what you want, when you want, on a kind of personal entertainment screen at your seat.
And what about YouTube?
It’s owned by Google which, of course, is part of Alphabet, Inc. You Tube now is letting political ad buyers do what YouTube had done for commercial ad buyers. It’s called “Instant Reserve” – this mirrors what sophisticated television buyers have done for decades for commercial clients. They try to book time – buying early for a better rate – on supposed blockbuster television programs. They do this way in advance. Just as commercial advertisers might book time for promotions related to Thanksgiving or Veterans Day or President’s Day or back-to-school or whatever, political buyers might be geared to certain news events or primary elections.
YouTube faces certain complications. Political advertising may be regulated independently of YouTube. And what exactly is a political ad? Is it actual advocacy, or subtle conversation, in some way sponsored. Or does it matter? Typically, the law simply says the individual or committee who pays for a political message must be identified.
Reporting by Emily Glazer and Patience Haggin has noted the new approach in political advertising is far superior to the old ways. In politics, as in so many fields, practitioners cannot afford to look in the rear view mirror. Whether in the commercial world or in political advertising, the emphasis is on targeting. Thus, as Glazer and Haggin observe, YouTube can allow political advertisers to target certain ads to appear ahead of particular views by viewers who are in a particular primary state or even in a politically competitive county, and to do so at an advantageous time, let’s say, as they point out, in Polk County, Iowa in the days before the February 3 caucuses.
As I’ve noted before, and these journalists write, the various Democrats are part of a national frenzy of advertising on Facebook. President Trump’s campaign also has spent big money on Facebook. This advertising seeks to motivate and embolden the base, and on particular issues. As of mid-November, Google was letting political advertisers reserve YouTube slots for the rest of 2020. Of course, one wonders why some would do so; all of the Democrats running will be history except for the one nominated.
And right now, with impeachment hot and heavy, both sides can be using public social media to define the dialogue and thus guide it toward sentiment for impeachment or against impeachment.
But I must tell you that many of these political ad strategists and their media buyers may think they are ahead of the curve, but they are not. My colleagues have a platform that allows political candidates to go far beyond what Facebook and other social media platforms offer. Using this novel platform with its immense capability, the political buyers can bypass FB and the other social media platforms and communicate on a micro-level. This is done by monitoring in real time the vast social media and engaging in conversation those who meet certain defined – if evolving — criteria.
Bottom line – what can be more efficient in advertising, especially in political advertising, than micro-targeted, calibrated in real time for precision and relevance? And what is more efficient than looking back at the way things were done, rather than adapting political advertising, in social media, to the New Age of technology and software and artificial intelligence and machine learning?