Australian Political Advertising Design: the use and effectiveness of new digital and social media in the construction of electoral campaigns
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Political campaigns' use of print, radio and television media is well understood within the Australian context but less clear is the effectiveness of the new digital social media in the construction of political advertising campaigns. Using data gathered in South-East Queensland during the 2012 cycle of State and Local Government elections, this paper studies how design elements contribute to the communication of political party campaign strategies. In particular, using emerging forms of digital analysis including geo-tagging and data-mining, this paper confirms parties' reliance on traditional communication methods and pedestrian design (particularly evident in the usage of signs) while they barely utilise new media and then, with little enthusiasm, design creativity or appreciation of their potential. We go on to study the opportunities for the political campaign use of social media such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and smartphone apps with reference to more successful campaign interventions, including examples from our research. This project moves beyond the anecdotal to appreciate the efficacy of recent forms of contemporary digital social media. There is some evidence that political parties and their campaign directors are exploiting the lag in the laws pertaining to new media as compared to the more tightly controlled print and electronic media. Nevertheless, with the growth of new media participation rates, candidates have the opportunity to connect directly with potential supporters just as dissatisfaction and disillusionment with political parties is on the rise. The tension between the traditional forms of news media and the new digital and social media in the competition to be the preeminent source of political debate and information plays out in a myriad of ways: while traditional media use their power to generate moral panics about new media, new media can produce surprising turns for those who blithely use it without sufficient deference to its locution, mores and design conventions. New media will become more central to democratic deliberation and, just as television changed the political ground rules, new media will require new thinking about the design and communication of campaign strategies and materials. This paper concludes by raising the issue of whether new media will it lead to a decline in the quality of political discourse or whether it has the potential to improve democracy.
ANZCA Conference Proceedings 2013
Copyright remains with the author 2013. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australian License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/au/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.