YouTube campaign videos more positive than television ads

Mar 26, 2012

( -- YouTube campaign videos are more positive than ads aired on television, a new University of Michigan study shows.

YouTube videos are more positive because they are narrowly targeted to the highly informed, high motivated, usually supportive people who view a candidate's online , said Rob Salmond, the study's author and assistant professor of .

"Informing and inspiring supporters is a task well suited to YouTube videos," Salmond said about the study.

Attacking an opponent, he said, is more effectively done on TV because weak supporters of a candidate's opponent – the usual target for negative advertising – are more likely to watch the candidate's TV spot than to watch the candidate's YouTube video.

The study involved analysis of more than 3,100 YouTube videos uploaded during the election campaigns by 72 parties in 12 countries.

Campaigners for high office tend to be more negative on TV than on YouTube, both in the United States and in other democracies. In the 2008 presidential campaign, the Obama campaign's YouTube videos that also likely appeared on TV were mostly attack ads against John McCain (56 percent), whereas the YouTube-only ads were mostly positive ads about Obama (73 percent). The McCain campaign was more negative in tone overall, and this tendency was substantially starker in the YouTube-and-TV videos (68 percent negative) than in the YouTube-only videos (52 percent negative).

Even among the negative ads, there is a difference in tone on YouTube. Among the YouTube only videos he examined, 78 percent attacked an opponent purely on the basis of their positions on issues. The remaining 22 percent introduced a significant element of character attack in addition to any policy-based criticism. On TV, however, the proportion of attack ads featuring character-based attacks jumped from 22 percent to over 38 percent.

Salmond said the audience for YouTube ads is younger, richer, more educated, more politically interested and more partisan than the population at large. In other countries, these differences are likely even more stark, because the U.S. has a much higher reported use of the Internet for political purposes than do most other democracies, he said.

YouTube also makes it easier to distribute longer, more detailed content that was previously possible, because long-form political infomercials on are almost prohibitively expensive.

"YouTube provides a substantially more cost effective means of providing detailed information to those who seek it than does TV," he wrote.

More than half of the TV attack advertisements Salmond examined contained strong fear appeals, compared to less than a quarter of the YouTube-only negative ads. And while 41 percent of the YouTube-only attack videos contained no fear appeal at all, only 16 percent of the negative TV did the same.

Explore further: Why companies don't learn from their mistakes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

YouTube adds video editing tool

Sep 15, 2011

YouTube on Wednesday added an editing tool that lets creators of videos make changes to snippets after they have been uploaded to the popular website.

YouTube adds online video editing tool

Jun 17, 2010

YouTube users can now edit their own videos online. The Google-owned video-sharing site added an online editing tool this week that allows YouTube users to combine multiple videos, shorten a video or add soundtracks ...

Recommended for you

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

23 hours ago

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Bribery 'hits 1.6 billion people a year'

Feb 27, 2015

A total of 1.6 billion people worldwide – nearly a quarter of the global population – are forced to pay bribes to gain access to everyday public services, according to a new book by academics at the Universities of Birmingham ...

Broken windows thesis springs a leak

Feb 27, 2015

The broken windows theory posits that minor misdemeanors, like littering or graffiti spraying, stimulate more serious anti-social behavior. LMU sociologists now argue that the idea is flawed and does not ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.