By Steve Welch
For the first seven years of my oldest daughter's life, every time a commercial came on television, she would turn to me as soon as it was done and say, "Daddy, will you please buy me that?"
It took her spending her own money on pure garbage, but I am proud that my 8-year-old daughter now understands advertising. In fact, she can spot it a million miles away. She is now capable of tuning it out or making fun of it. The commercials that previously elicited an immediate need to purchase are now nothing more then a sales pitch falling on deaf ears.
At 38 years old, I am at the tail end of Generation X, which was the first bombarded by advertising from birth. However, what I experienced as a kid pales in comparison to what the millennials have endured. The bombardment of this over-curated, inauthentic content has produced a populace that is highly skilled at identifying and shunning anything that reeks of baloney.
Out of such awareness comes new technology that regularly changes the way media is created and consumed. Cable television provided the opportunity for a 24-hour news cycle with content that allows audiences to self-select based on their political views. Twitter revolutionized the way and speed with which information traveled. I would add to that list Meerkat, which debuted this month and has the potential to change the way media is created and consumed. This new live video-streaming platform, which is backed by the company I founded, DreamIt Ventures, has vast implications, but it is in politics where Meerkat could make the most dramatic impact.
Meerkat, which launched just this month, allows users to push a button on their smartphones and instantly stream live in HD to anyone following them on Twitter or on the Meerkat app.
Already, we believe Meerkat has proven its worth. Recently on the streets of Ferguson, protesters used Meerkat to broadcast live from inside the actual rally. There were no cable-network filters and no paid anchors providing commentary. There was just live raw footage from inside the rally in real time.
Yes, there are plenty of services with which you can film a video and then post it online. However, there is something genuine and sincere that can only come from a live, unedited broadcast. That's why I believe Meerkat will change the landscape of broadcast and cable television in the way that Twitter has reshaped the printed word.
Every campaign going forward will have a decision to make: Will we Meerkat? Many candidates will refuse, some will attempt staged Meerkat performances, and some will truly embrace it for the real value it brings. Former Govs. Jeb Bush and Martin O'Malley and Sen. Rand Paul have already started using this platform.
As someone who has experience running for office, I believe this technology could open up campaigns and politicians to audiences in a way never before seen, and ultimately help them develop a much deeper connection with voters.
Meerkat gives candidates who want to embrace new technology a choice. They no longer have to feel limited to a shallow and snarky world of 144 characters. Instead, they can establish a genuine connection with voters, one that is more meaningful because it is based on a shared experience. The audience will be allowed to see the real candidate, potentially without the filters of handlers or media.
And there is another potential benefit: Candidates willing to develop a filter-free relationship with voters may find that minor slips of the tongue are no longer fatal. And 30-second negative advertisements from the opposition could lose their sting.
I see a political crossroads. Will candidates keep hiding behind select interviews and old-school paid advertising campaigns that even 8-year-olds can see through? Or will they try to connect directly with voters?
On Nov. 9, 2016, we will find out which model worked.