Supporters of President Barack Obama are the likely driving force of rival Mitt Romney’s YouTube channel, an analysis of ChannelMeter’s proprietary YouTube data show. If next week’s presidential election were held on YouTube, President Barack Obama would be the hands-down winner, but it’s possible that the rivals are even further apart than YouTube statistics indicate.
Obama is winning on YouTube because his campaign team understands the medium, and they are using online video powerfully to connect with voters. For Romney and his team, YouTube seems to be an afterthought.
How this translates on election day is anyone’s guess, but let’s look at the numbers.
For the purposes of our study we analyzed data* for “new videos” uploaded by either candidate since the first day of each party’s nominating convention, Aug. 27 for the Republicans, and Sept. 3 for the Democrats. We looked at a few key measures of video performance
- Total video uploads
- Cumulative video views
- Aggregate Likes and Dislikes
- Likes vs. Dislikes as a Ratio
Obama’s post-convention videos have reached over 4x as many viewers; 39,759,332 versus 9,344,922. Governor Romney’s videos were watched more frequently. While President Obama averaged 85,873 views per upload, Romney received 88,159 views per video.
There is a night and day difference between the campaigns’ most popular videos. Obama’s attack ad, “Big Bird” has been watched 3.5 million times since being posted on Oct. 9. On Sept. 27, the Romney campaign upload its most popular ad, “Too Many Americans,” which has 920,000 views, our data show.
Beyond view counts, the ratio of likes versus dislikes is the most important metric for gauging the impact of a candidates’s YouTube strategy. YouTube only records one like or dislike per viewer, per video.
Obama received 280,650 aggregate likes versus 54,467 dislikes, to Romney’s 58,254 likes, and 32,881 dislikes. For every 5.2 likes Obama received, he received 1 dislike, compared to 1.8 likes for every dislike for Romney. Romney received 38 percent of all dislikes, in spite of uploading only 20 percent of all new videos, and receiving 19 percent of new video views.
It’s a fairly safe assumption that the Romney Campaign has no YouTube strategy, and is simply repurposing its television ads online. Obama, on the other hand, understands that YouTube is a powerful tool that can be used to cost-effectively reach his desired audience. The discrepancy in the number of uploads between the two candidates shows that Obama is creating content specifically for YouTube to target key constituencies such as young, female voters, those living in early voting states, and residents of key swing states such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado.
Obama’s YouTube team knows a thing or two about creating buzz, releasing a steady stream of star-powered spots featuring A-Listers such as Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Mad Men Star John Hamm, and Rashida Jones and Alisha Keys. No high-profile celebrities appear in videos uploaded to Mitt Romney’s official YouTube channel.
Based on our analysis, one could plausibly assume that Obama and Romney are sharing the same YouTube audience–namely Obama supporters. How else does one explain the discrepancy between the average number of likes and dislikes for both candidates? It’s impossible to know for sure, but a strong case could be made that riled-up Obama supporters are disproportionately responsible for Romney’s YouTube. With almost one dislike for every two video likes, one could infer that a significant portion of those tuning in to watch Romney videos are doing so to express their displeasure.
The Romney team may also know that its key demographic does not see YouTube as a source of valuable political information, otherwise they may have devoted resources. But in a nail-biter of an election, if Obama’s YouTube strategy delivers young voters to the polls, social media could be the key factor in deciding the next president of the United States.
*This post is based on ChannelMeter data collected Nov. 1, 2012.