I saw this post at Tech President about how people with digital video recorders like Tivo will just pass right by all the political commercials the candidates and 527's will be cramming the airwaves with this year. First, I noted the irony - campaigns are raising millions online and using that money for TV ads that people won't watch.
And then it dawned on me: forget about Tivo - I hardly watch television at all. I tested myself on where I get my information and here's what I got:
That big orange chunk is blogs and social media. The green is online news networks and publications like the Boston Globe and Lexington Herald-Leader. About a month ago the proportions were reversed, but now I rely on Twitter for breaking news updates from BBC, CNN, WSJ, NYT, and so on. I was surprised to discover that the third largest category for me was satellite and terrestrial radio (it's mostly sattelite). I subscribe to a couple of magazines and one newspaper (Business Lexington). I watch television maybe 2 hours a week - excluding sports, but even then I don't watch much of that on TV either. (For some reason, I love listening to baseball on the radio.)
While I don't necessarily think I'm representative of the general population, we all know people continue to leverage online sources more for information. Newspapers were the first to suffer, but television is clearly also feeling the bite.
Campaigns and 527's are already looking at the television vs. online debate much differently. First, the online channel gives the campaign an opportunity to interact with the user and ask for money. Television doesn't raise a thing - it costs money, and the rate of return is diminishing, thanks to DVR's and other innovations.
As the political folks move more online they face even greater challenges than the product marketers who annoy mommybloggers. First, they have to decide how much time they will spend talking to their natural base - political blogs with aligned ideologies. The need for relevance in outreach is critical, since consumers and citizens beyond the political activists don't aggressively and constantly seek out political information. They will have to make the case that what they're selling is integral to the discussions already taking place.