The 2008 presidential election was dubbed by many as the first YouTube (GOOG) election. Whether it was videos of comedian Tina Fey impersonating vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin or the ‘Obama Girl’ viral video, YouTube has increasingly played a dominant role in the presidential election.
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“It’s clear that people are going to YouTube to get information” says Rick Song, executive vice president of Global Head of Media Solutions for ZEFR a web analytics firm.
Tom Galido, head of data and insights for ZEFR, says that for this election, candidates have taken on two unique strategies for developing their YouTube presence. For Bernie Sanders, the strategy is to develop an engaged and loyal base, whereas for Trump, it’s to accumulate as much discussion surrounding yourself as possible.
Data from ZEFR shows that at the beginning of election season, users search more for issue related video. However, as the election goes on, more people search for non-issue related videos like events.
In March 2016, ZEFR found that the top three videos uploaded for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have little to do with policy or issues. Trump’s top videos include one Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit, a parody video from ‘Last Week Tonight’ host John Oliver and an attempted attack on the businessman at a Dayton, Ohio rally. Similarly for Clinton, her top videos include an ad attacking her by Trump, an SNL skit and a video where Clinton gets into a heated discussion with a young, female voter and says “Why don’t you go run for something then?”
And according to ZEFR’s data, Trump has the highest number of views devoted to criticism and commentary of any candidate, showing his ability to control the conversation.