Media Exposure – What Election Polls Missed
By Todd Murphy, Vice President, Universal Information Services
Monday morning quarterbacking is the easiest job in the world, especially if you have data analysts like I do at Universal Information Services. With the Trump v. Clinton Presidential election in the rear view mirror by a week, it appears obvious why Donald Trump won over Hillary Clinton. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go anywhere near the politics of this issue, but only point out why media placement, message points, and share of voice media exposure is at least a better indicator of a future outcome than polling.
At Universal Information Services we’ve been using media exposure as a predictor of outcomes since the Obama vs. Romney race. What we have found is that unless there is some extraordinary circumstance that causes the media exposure for one candidate to eclipse the other, there appears to be a strong correlation between media exposure and an election outcome. An extraordinary media event would be something so scandalous as to essentially render the candidates opportunity impossible.
Yes, the 2016 Presidential Election was extraordinary, in fact, I would argue unprecedented. However, both candidates had an approximately equal number of detracting message points to effectively balance the playing field. In other words, neither candidate was able to shoot themselves in the foot so badly they couldn’t recover. Frankly, short of killing someone on stage at a debate, I’m not quite sure what issues would have hindered either of them.
What Can Share of Voice Tell Us?
Although Universal Information Services provides deep analysis of news and media exposure, this post is looking at only a few relatively simple measures. Our PR measurement tools let us generate a comparison of media exposure between two or more subjects. In this case, we retroactively analyzed the volume and type of coverage both Presidential candidates, Clinton and Trump, received in the 30 days leading up to the election on November 8th. What was revealed was that Trump was receiving more media exposure, across all media types, for that period. And although some call share-of-voice a vanity metric, the impact from message quantity does factor in to the overall potential for behavioral change. The more one is exposed to a message the greater the probability of that message affecting behavior. How much message volume impacts behavior requires a deeper dive, but this is one small piece of evidence pointing towards a Trump victory.
Why Does the Type of Media Outlet Matter?
Quality of a media outlet, credibility, viewership/impressions, and ease of amplification are several factors that determine the velocity a message might gain through placement in one type of outlet over another. For example, a live interview on Fox News television reaches millions of viewers. The link to that story also has the potential to reach millions of people because of the committed viewer base that Fox News has. In tandem, a single story on Fox News and their website could travel wider and impact more people than a blog post might from a political website in Iowa. This is not a reflection of the quality of the information contained within this story, but rather the magnitude a media outlet can impact the public. More stories on the more prevalent, higher rated outlets, the greater the probability a message has of impacting a voter. Here we see Donald Trump surpass Hillary Clinton in each of the five measured types of media outlets. Another piece of the pie pointing to a Trump victory.