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article imageHow well did the virtual DNC actually go? Special

By Tim Sandle     Aug 19, 2020 in Politics
The U.S. Democrats have held the first major political conference broadcast online and on television stations. How well did this virtual conference actually go and what does this say for the future of the medium?
Joe Biden was nominated as the U.S. presidential candidate at a convention noted for staid performances broadcast online and during which radicalism was firmly off the agenda. Aside from the political messaging, how well did the use of streaming technology work out?
To understand in detail how the convention went, Digital Journal sought the views of David Pitta, CMO at BrightTALK, a company that provides professional webinar hosting. Pitta provides his expert insight on what worked, what didn’t, and what we can learn from it all.
What worked – and why
America's voice
Never before have we heard so many voices from the American people. This is a strong turn of events where 50 speakers (Representatives, Senators, Mayors, Entertainers, Athletes, and Union Presidents) step up to a podium and tell stories designed to get the in-person audience applause. Instead, the stories we hear tonight are designed to draw the emotion of a virtual audience. Nearly all Americans have become used to seeing our friends, family, colleagues, educators, and leaders via webcams. It feels authentic in today's world. That said, oddly enough, the highly produced video shown tonight feels the opposite.
What didn’t work – and why
Streaming platforms
The big winner’s tonight are the streaming platforms of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter. These platforms will find hundreds of millions of dollars dumped into advertising campaigns. Both parties will battle to reach their audience and the audience of each other. It will create more friction in our election process as these platforms struggle to maintain a balanced approach in advertising.
Virtual event
While the headlines claim the DNC and RNC conventions will be 'virtual,' this was far from a virtual event. A virtual event is one that brings together an audience. One that allows participation from the content creators and the audience. Instead, the audience was distributed to different platforms with varying degrees of participation. But not one that brings everyone together into a shared experience.
Next steps
A divided experience loses the ability to drive action. Whether that action is to encourage viewers to register to vote, donate, or rally with your 'tribe,' the lack of next steps via a divided experience is a lost opportunity.
While streaming did offer closed captions (with various degrees of accuracy), ASL was only available on one channel and it was via a small link on the DNC website. Depending on how you arrived at the live video, you may or may not have been able to experience the content.
And what the Republicans can learn strictly from a programming point of view?
Here Pitta recommends:
Own the experience: reach can be helpful, but a single experience can unite voters and provide an opportunity for you to own the first-party data of your audience. This alone may be a competitive edge in this election process.
Positive spin: while it was the Democrats’ strategy to hit on Trump's leadership on COVID-19, the American public hasn't been able to get away from COVID news for 5+ months. We all desperately want a positive voice, a rallying cry, for the future.
Collect feedback: while commenting on social platforms creates noise that is hard to judge sentiment, clear voting or polls in a virtual event allow succinct data collection that can be addressed the next day. You can speak to your audience, but you can also speak with your audience. Allowing viewers to have a voice, and acknowledging that voice, is key with virtual events.
More about Virtual, Convention, Politics, Democrats, Joe biden
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