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Social Media Has the Potential to Influence Undecided Voters

  • JOURNAL OF ADVERTISING RESEARCH

How do information sources shape voters’ political views in our increasingly polarized society? New research compares the effects of mainstream media and social media on U.S. consumers who vote Democrat, Republican or identify as undecided. The findings point to the powerful potential influences of social media, especially on undecided voters, such as in determining the outcome of presidential elections. The study also suggests political marketing strategies to influence potential voters.

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Earth Day at 52

Born to combat pollution, environmentalism's annual observance is poised to inspire more than ever—if governments, the public and brands can figure out what it means now. There is one small thing Denis Hayes might have done differently when he was organizing the first Earth Day in 1969: had it trademarked. The idea did not end there. And a lot has changed since the first Earth Day. As Hayes acknowledged to Adweek, Earth Day the brand belongs to pretty much any entity that wants to claim it. “Earth Day is a reminder that, though the challenges ahead of us are big, we can rise to meet them if we come together and demand better.” Jenny Powers, CCO, Natural Resources Defense Council. Source: Kaplan, D. (2022, April 22).  Earth Day at 52: A Case for Relevance—and a Rebrand. Adweek.

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NYCU: Improving Vaccination Messaging

As the Delta variant causes more infections, a study by RealEyes gains renewed importance. Their research points to the importance of pre-testing and suggests that PSAs and ads meant to encourage vaccination do not always achieve their goals. As widely reported, the political orientation and racial makeup of vaccine recipients does not match the general population. While public service and advertising campaigns on TV and social media have encouraged vaccine uptake and sometimes directly address minority groups, disparities in vaccine uptake persist. RealEyes conducted a study to understand how these PSAs and ads resonate with racial and politically affiliated groups. The research company examined twelve video ads across four racial groups (Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White) and among self-identified Democrats and Republicans. They found that on all measures, these PSAs and ads scored significantly lower among minority groups and Republicans - the groups most in need of encouragement to get vaccinated.  Also, these PSAs and ads did not score particularly high in general, indicating “room for improvement.” The distinct variation among ad scores when viewed by the different groups suggests that the fragmentation of values, reasoning, emotion and personal motivation makes it difficult to create effective public service ads amidst a pandemic in a highly polarized political climate. The study shows how important it is to test creative to make sure PSAs and ads address various target groups’ resistance factors, while imparting emotional drivers to encourage action.  Source: Kalehoff, M. (2021, June 24). 2021 Vaccine Ads ReportRealEyes.

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NYCU: Census -- American Consumers are Changing

The new 2020 Census data show how American consumers are changing: They are more diverse and identify more as “multiracial” than ever before. In addition, the data reveal some important population shifts. Here is a summary. Our analysis of the 2020 Census results show that the US population is much more multiracial, and more racially and ethnically diverse than what we measured in the past," said Nicholas Jones, the Director and Senior Advisor of Race and Ethnic Research and Outreach in the US Census Bureau's Population Division.

  • People of color represented 43% of the total US population in 2020, up from 34% in 2010.
  • The non-Hispanic White share of the US population fell to 57% in 2020, shrinking by six percentage points since 2010, the largest decrease of any race or ethnicity.
  • The adult population in the United States has grown from 237 million to 261 million during the last 10 years.
  • Non-White, US residents younger than 18 now make up 53% of the population among minors, up from 47% in 2010.
  • Non-Hispanic White Americans continue to be the most prevalent group in every state, except for in California, Hawaii and New Mexico, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • There are now seven states and territories — California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Maryland, Hawaii and Puerto Rico — where the non-Hispanic White share of the population is below 50%.
  • The Census retooled their survey for 2020 to ask American residents more detailed questions about how they identify their race and ethnicity. The Census Bureau reported that these and other, technical changes "enable(d) a more thorough and accurate depiction of how people self-identify."
  • Almost all of the nation's population growth was in its cities. ​​More than half of all counties saw their population decline since 2010.
Source:   Boschma, J., Wolfe, D, Krishnakumar, P., Hickey, C., Maharishi, M., Rigdon, R., Keefe, J., and Wright, D.  (2021, August 12). Census release shows America is more diverse and more multiracial than ever. CNN  

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NYCU: In Brief -- Search Ad Spending, FCC & Loud Commercials

eMarketer’s 2021 forecast gives the lion’s share of ad $ to Google.   Source: Oscar, M.  (2021, April 19). Digital/ Search Ad Share. HocusFocus.


Loud TV Commercials Get FCC Scrutiny FCC asks public to comment on need for updating regulations. Complaints are increasing over violations of a 2010 U.S. law. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked for the public’s help in determining whether to update rules to prevent broadcast, cable and satellite providers from sending commercials that are louder than the programming they accompany. The action follows an April 13 letter from US Representative Anna Eshoo (D - CA) asking FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, to look into a reported increase in complaints about loud commercials. Eshoo wrote a 2010 law, known as the CALM Act, or Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, that underpins FCC rules that may be changed. Source: Shield, T. (2021, April 19). Those Annoying Loud TV Commercials to Get Scrutiny From the FCC. Screen Time: Bloomberg. (Access may be limited to subscribers)

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NYCU: A Crisis of Confidence in Research?

Following an ARF event about the inaccuracies in political polling and how that may have impacted other research (see: NYCU Feb. 5 issue), a virtual Media Insights Salon took another look at this important issue.   The Salon featured five research experts: Betsy Frank, Jack Wakshlag, Tim Brooks, Paul Donato and Charlene Weisler, as well as veteran journalist Joe Mandese. You can watch the hour-long roundtable here. Betsy Frank - “If we’ve learned anything over the past couple of years, it is that politics ruins everything.” She blamed the news media, in part, for their coverage of political polling pre- and post-election for the past two cycles (at least) but acknowledged that the environment surrounding survey-based research has fundamentally changed, and that other methods – including observational methods or biometric techniques – may be part of a long-term solution for measuring media. Jack Wakshlag - “What’s happened now is the cynicism that we’ve seen in politics now has spilled over, there’s a decline in trust.” He implied that many organizations have let standards slide and that has contributed to a loss of confidence about research science overall. He suggested some of the problems with sample representation – including political polls – could be offset by utilizing sample weighting techniques to compensate for the under-representation of key segments. Tim Brooks added that part of the problem with survey research, is that methods have changed from the simple days of diary-based, panel surveys and random-digital-dialing telephone surveys, to online polls, which virtually anyone and everyone can conduct. The ARF’s Paul Donato summarized insights from the ARF event on this topic. He concluded that the media and marketing research industry should adopt a combination of techniques, including well-conceived and maintained panels that can control for the representation of various consumers, as well as data analytic methods that could be used to benchmark, and adjust each other. He described this as a “proper balance between a well-curated panel and machine-curated data,” and said that utilizing the two processes simultaneously would lead to the best “scientific combination,” of research and data science. Source: Mandese, J. (2021, April 6). Media Researchers: Politics Ruins Everything, Including Media Research. MediaDailyNews: MediaPost.


For more perspectives on this issue please see our ARF L.A. Council event.
And here is yet another perspective: Is Data Always the Answer? “When polls have faltered in predicting the outcome of elections, we hear calls for more and better data. But, if more data isn’t always the answer, maybe we need instead is to reassess our relationship with predictions – to accept that there are inevitable limits to what numbers can offer, and to stop expecting mathematical models on their own to carry us through times of uncertainty.” Source: Fry, H. (2021, March 22). What Data Can’t Do. The New Yorker.

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NYCU: Three Aspects of Our Contradictory Economy

We are revisiting the complex changes on our economy with new data on women's employment, CEO confidence and consumers' spending plans.

Women's Labor Force Participation Hits 33-Year Low. In January, another 275,000 women dropped out of the labor force. This accounts for nearly 80% of all workers over age 20 who left the workforce last month, according to a National Women's Law Center analysis of the latest jobs report. This brings the total number of women who have left the labor force since February 2020 to more than 2.3 million, and it puts women's labor force participation rate at 57%, the lowest since 1988. Many of these women, says Emily Martin, VP for education and workplace justice at NWLC, have been forced to leave the workplace due to ongoing closures of schools and daycare centers. These women, she explains, are not included in the calculated unemployment rate, which is already disproportionately high for women of color. "To be counted as unemployed, you have to be looking for work," she tells CNBC's "Make It." "Those who have left the labor force are no longer working or looking for work, so in some ways the unemployment rate is artificially lowered by the fact that it doesn't capture these millions of women." Of the women who were working last month, 17% of those over age of 16 were involuntarily working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work. For women of color, this number was even higher, with 27.9% of Latinas, 24.4% Black of women and 18.5% of Asian women forced to work part-time. Read the Full Article

Source: Connley, C. (2021, February 8). Women's Labor Force Participation Rate Hit A 33-Year Low In January, According To New AnalysisCNBC.


CEO Confidence Spikes. A survey on CEO confidence about the economic outlook reveals growing optimism, i.e., their best outlook in 17 years.

Source: Allen, M. (2021, February 19). CEO Confidence SpikesAxios AM: Axios.


Spending the Stimulus Check. A Bloomberg/Morning Consult survey explores how Americans might spend their third stimulus check:

Source: Egkolfopoulou, M. And Fanzeres, J. (2021, February 11). Americans' Saved-Up Stimulus Checks Could Bring Economic BoostEconomics, Bloomberg Wealth: Bloomberg.

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NYCU: In Brief: Super Bowl Without Bud; Accurate Census Data; Inauguration Viewership

Super Bowl Without Bud P.S. – Sam Adams plans to spoof Bud’s Clydesdales in a Super Bowl commercial (but only in Boston and New York markets).   Source: Schultz, E.J. (2021, January 25). Budweiser to Skip Super Bowl for the First Time in 37 Years. AdAge.   


Accurate Census Data  Many marketers rely on census data for accurate population data. So does the government --  and itrequired by the Constitution.  Undocumented immigrants will be counted in the nation decennial population count. Biden’s order overturns Trump’s attempt to exclude them from the 20202 Census.    Source: Janowski, E. (2021, January 25). Here's the full list of Biden's executive actions so far. NBC News.   
Inauguration Viewership: Probably Close to a Tie   Live coverage of Joe Biden's inauguration as President of the United States on Jan. 20 totaled 33.67 million viewers across 17 TV networks. That’s an increase of 11.2% over the 30.37 million viewers who watched the last inauguration in 2017.   However, Nielsen noted that this year's estimates include both out-of-home and connected TV (CTV) audiences that were not factored in in 2017, and which likely boosted estimates by as much as 11%.    Source: Mandese, J. (2021, January 25). Official Nielsen Inauguration Estimates Show Biden's Up 11.2%, With A Caveat. MediaDailyNews: MediaPost        

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NYCU: Record Election Ad Spending

The 2020 election cycle has smashed all records for ad spending.    Total advertising spending over the two-year campaign cycle has reached a record-shattering $8.395 billion, according to figures provided by Advertising Analytics, a leading national ad tracking firm. The total overall cost of the 2020 election, which includes spending on staff salaries, events, advertising and more, will reach $14 billion, according to projections from the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance data.   Just in the ad wars alone, $3 billion was spent on the presidential campaign for the relentless commercials that blanketed the airwaves.   Source: Schultz, M. and Steinhauser, P. (2020, November 13). 2020 election projected to cost $14B -- campaigns spent $8B on ads alone2020Campaign: FOXBusiness.   From NewsweekSee chart.      Sources: Crisp, E. (2020, October 29). 2020 Political Ad Spending Shatters RecordsNewsweek    

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NYCU: What Went Wrong with Polling?

The quality of polls and forecasts is emerging as an important issue for our industry. The ARF has a “Future of Forecasting” event on December 3. Topics include: Which Polls Got the Election Right and Why? Can Consumers Predict Their Future Behavior? What Can Market Research Offer Economic Forecasting? You can register free by using this link. We are including two articles on these issues. One asks why most polls this year got it wrong despite the adjustments they made after the 2016 problems. Another piece is on the October 2020 unemployment report, which has been called “a forecasting failure of almost unprecedented magnitude.”  What Went Wrong with Polling? Pollsters thought they had learned from the errors of 2016. It’s possible that they did, and that this election reflects new problems. But make no mistake: It’s not too early to say that the polls’ systematic understatement of President Trump’s support was very similar to the polling misfire of four years ago and might have exceeded it. For now, there is no easy excuse. After 2016, pollsters arrived at plausible explanations for why surveys had systematically underestimated Mr. Trump in the battleground states. One was that state polls didn’t properly weight respondents without a college degree. Another was that there were factors beyond the scope of polling, like the large number of undecided voters who appeared to break sharply to Mr. Trump in the final stretch. This year, there seemed to be less cause for concern. In 2020, most state polls weighted by education, and there were far fewer undecided voters. But in the end, the polling error in states was virtually identical to the miss from 2016, despite the steps taken to fix things. The national polls were even worse than they were four years ago, when the industry’s most highly respected and rigorous survey houses generally found Hillary Clinton leading by four points or less — close to her 2.1-point popular-vote victory. This year, Mr. Biden is on track to win the national vote by around 5 percentage points. No major national, live-interview telephone survey showed him leading by less than eight percentage points over the final month of the race. In the months ahead, troves of data will help add context to exactly what happened in this election, like final turnout data, the results by precinct, and updated records of which voters turned out or stayed home. All of this data can be appended to our polling, to nail down where the polls were off most and help point toward why. But for now, it’s still too soon for a confident answer. Source: Cohn, N. (2020, November 10).  What Went Wrong With Polling? Some Early Theories. The New York Times. (Only NYT subscribers can access the full article). _______________ The author reminds us during the current debate about political polling that economic forecasts are far from perfect. This week America witnessed a forecasting failure of almost unprecedented magnitude. October's unemployment rate came in at 6.9%, after dozens of the best-paid and most experienced economic forecasters in the world predicted the number would come in at 7.7%. Why it matters: Those forecasters had literally millions of data points of information to go on, and have had ample experience with unemployment releases, which come out like clockwork on the first Friday of every month. But there will be no great, post-mortem about why they got the number so wrong. Forecasts, by their nature, are often wrong, even with reliable inputs and well-calibrated models. Wall Street understands this and has long learned to live with it. In the case of presidential election polling, the inputs are much less reliable and the models can only be roughly recalibrated once every four years. That makes electoral forecasts extremely unreliable — an uncomfortable fact that almost no one in the media has really grappled with. The bottom line: Americans will always latch onto whatever polls they can find, desperate to find a narrative during the long months of campaigning. We'd be better off ignoring them entirely. Source: Salmon, F. (2020, November 9). P.S. Economic polls are bad, too. Economy & Business: Axios.    

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