Google has proclaimed the 2012 presidential election to be “the first four screen election”, in a piece of research that neatly illustrates the differing uses of mobile, search, TV and tablets over the 2012 campaign.
Of the four screens, Google says that mobile’s role in political campaigning grew the most from the US presidential election in 2008, with voters in 2012 using their mobiles to stay up to date with key issues, look up quick answers and find last-minute information, like where to vote.
For example, total US mobile searches related to finding a voting location increased by 164% from the Monday before the election to election day Tuesday, a trend that was even more pronounced in battleground states.
Search was “an essential voter tool for fact-checking and education” and “a critical campaign tool for rapid-response and persuasion” according to Google, with 64% of voters using the internet to verify or fact check a claim made by a candidate or issue group.
Tablets, meanwhile, played a notable role as “a couch comparison”, helping voters to find more information about something they saw on TV. During the second Presidential Debate, for example, energy-policy related searches on tablets spiked 359% immediately after the question about gas prices.
The research is published on the Google Mobile Ads blog, so there is, perhaps, little surprise at the conclusion Google comes to. “The trend is clear: those who invest in online win,” Google’s Jennifer Gross, from the company’s politics and elections team, writes. “In fact, nine of the top 11 US Senate races who spent more online with Google won on Tuesday.”
Equally, it is perhaps predictable that Google sees TV as “powerful catalyst to drive action on digital devices”, claiming that, “Savvy campaigns built presences across all screens to stay connected with voters that are driven online by TV to fact-check or research.”