6 Mobile Apps Hillary and Trump Should Use to Win Over Young Voters

Even Pokemon Go could earn them some support

The 2016 presidential election is drastically different from previous races when it comes to courting young voters, primarily because of the many popular mobile apps out today that didn't exist four years ago. And millennials, the most frequent users of such apps, are a demographic that can't be ignored. According to a recent survey by Adecco Staffing, 71 percent of Gen Y and Gen Z students plan to vote in the upcoming presidential election. 

"Millennials are the mobile-first generation, getting news from mobile apps and expressing themselves with emojis and GIFs," said Scott Nelson, head of Viber North America.

Indeed, per comScore, U.S. consumers ages 18 to 34 individually spend 368 minutes per month on mobile instant messaging apps, 20 percent more time than the 305 minutes the average mobile internet user spends. 

So we took a look at six apps that Hillary Clinton's and Donald Trump's campaigns could use in interesting ways in the coming weeks. Five of them are messaging apps. And for good measure, we threw in Pokemon Go since it has effective features for driving attendance to speeches, fundraisers and other campaign events. 

Check out the marketing features of each app, ranging from Facebook Messenger to Viber, that could come to life in the race for the White House:

1. Snapchat

Among millennials who are likely to vote in the 2016 election, 34 percent use Snapchat, according to an online survey by Global Strategy Group and Public Opinion Strategies. What's more, 67 percent of Snapchat's millennial users are likely to vote in the election, compared with 61 percent of millennials overall. 

Indeed, Snapchat would be a very good vehicle for getting Gen Y's attention. Here are a few of the tools available for each party's nominee:

Snap ads: These videos have already been used by Republicans in U.S. Senate races and were utilized by Rand Paul's and Scott Walker's failed bids for the GOP nomination. They will surely be employed by Clinton and Trump in the coming weeks, but the campaigns haven't deployed Snap Ads yet in their head-to-head matchup. 

Sponsored geofilters: These ad units let brands offer Snapchat users cool, themed overlays to the images they share. They were widely used in the primaries, chiefly by Bernie Sanders, who bought Get Out the Vote geofilters in Iowa, New Hampshire, New York and other states. Republican Marco Rubio also used them in his bid to take down Trump. And, they were utilized by Clinton to tackle Trump (see above image), while pro-Trump marketers bought the geofilter seen on the right to mock Clinton during her hearing about her use of a private email server. 

Sponsored lenses: These are expensive, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per day, and they've never been purchased by a U.S. politician. The lenses add colorful filters to selfies—from rainbow vomit to zombie faces—and are wildly popular with Snapchat users. It will be interesting to see if either camp forks over the big cash for a lens or two. Because they are national buys, look for them from the political right and left heading into Election Day in November. 

2. Pokemon Go

Though only a few weeks old, Pokemon Go reportedly has as many as 50 million users now. The app employs a smartphone's GPS to alert users when they're "in the game"—or when Pokemon characters appear on their phone in augmented reality. The concept entices players to move around their locale and earn points by catching the characters. 

"Pokemon Go is an opportunity for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to harness the power of mobile to reach voters," said marketing consultant David Deal. "But they need to understand the ethos of the game to succeed. No one wants to engage in politics when they're playing Pokemon Go. Players want to have fun. The presidential candidates need to tap into the joy of the game and understand how to reward players with incentives instead of throwing political dogma at them or using Pokemon Go to create negative ads that bash the other candidate."

Here are a pair of tools it offers political marketers:

Sponsored locations: On July 20, the Niantic-owned game debuted its first sponsored location ads for McDonald's in Japan. The paid promotions transform areas into "gyms," which let players battle or train characters in the mobile game, making them enticing destinations for Pokemon Go players. Simply put, they should, in theory, drive significant foot traffic. This feature seems like an interesting way to draw young voters to stump speeches and other campaign events in the coming weeks.

Lure modules: L'inizio Pizza Bar in Long Island City, N.Y., told the New York Post that its sales jumped 75 percent in one weekend when it activated this feature. The lure modules encourage patronage because they place virtual Pokemon characters—via the app's augmented-reality capabilities—in a location. You can buy a dozen of the characters for as little as $10, per the Post article. So once again, Pokemon Go seems like a no-brainer for drawing crowds to campaign events. 

Deal had a couple of suggestions for the campaigns. He said they should "use lures to attract players to locations where candidates are hosting events. Be ready to register voters without getting into heavy political discussions with them."

Secondly, Deal said, they should provide "a utility to Pokemon Go players.

"Players are always running out of battery charges on their mobile phones, for instance," he said. "The candidates could set up free charging stations and provide campaign tchotchkes and voter registration at the stations."

3. Facebook Messenger

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