At the polls, the Democratic primary was a squeaker. Online, however, it wasn’t close: Barack Obama dominated the discourse and steamrolled Hillary Clinton in every relevant metric, including the number of people watching Obama-related video online.
Indeed, one of the more impressive achievements of Obama’s organisation is the way it churns out video after video–more than 1,165 posted and 14.8 million views on YouTube alone. Much of that is the work of Obama’s director of field video production, 32-year-old Arun Chaudhary. Obama’s YouTube guru shared some of his insights at an event Wednesday sponsored by frog design, the NYU’s Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program and Fast Company.
Obama’s biggest advantage, Chaudhary said, was that his organisation took video seriously from the start. The campaign has 50 staffers shooting, editing and posting video, most of it for online. Where Clinton would have just one staffer videotaping an event in Iowa, Obama often had five to provide multiple camera angles. They posted new video constantly, and quickly — 19 minutes from shoot to post, in one case. And they’d ping community voters via email to alert them to new video.
Other nuggets: Obama’s YouTube and web site metrics show that his online viewers aren’t pups. The average viewer is 45 to 55 years old, Chaudhary said, a fact he found “shocking.” And while Chaudhary made plenty of humorous clips, they weren’t the most popular. Invariably the videos that got the most views were long clips of speeches, unscripted moments, or, say, an appearance on “Ellen” or “Oprah.” The viewing reflects a hunger not to be entertained, but to know something about the candidate.
Chaudhary’s theory on all this: The technology was availble to do all of this, at this scale, four years ago. But it has taken this long for mainstream America to get comfortable with online video.
Now that they are, Chaudhary says Obama speaks of continuing to use the medium if elected: He pictures online fireside chats, and posting video of internal debates on topics like healthcare.
Chaudhary spent a lot of time producing video with vintage clips from the public-domain sources like the Prelinger Archive, but some of the most popular and effective videos were hardly produced at all, such as this clip shot by interns of Obama addressing his Chicago staff (293,353 views):
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