Electoral Commission turns to geo-targeting to reach young voters

The Electoral Commission has begun targeting young voters on their mobile devices for the first time in an effort to remind them to register online.

There are an estimated 7.5 million eligible people who aren’t correctly registered to vote – equivalent to the population of Greater Manchester, West Midlands and West Yorkshire combined. In the last general election less than half of 18-24 year olds voted.

Based on the insight that 85 per cent of this age group in the UK either own or have ready access to a smartphone, the campaign from the Electoral Commission has harnessed data from Weve – the joint venture between O2, EE, and Vodafone – to target potential voters.

It will see messages sent around some of the biggest university campuses in the UK to remind people that they need to be registered to vote by the deadline of 20 April. Additionally, in Wales, activity is to run in Welsh and English to reflect the correct location.

“Registering to vote is now easier than ever. For the first time in the run up to a General Election people can use their smartphones to go online and register to vote, so it makes sense to use that same technology to remind young people they can do this,” said Michael Abbott, head of campaigns at the Electoral Commission.

“We know young people are less likely to be registered to vote than older people, so it’s vital that we use innovative methods to communicate with them.”

The government team at Carat worked with Weve to harness the vast amounts of data it collects. Oliver Mountstephens, manager of the digital display team at Carat said it expects to see an uplift in 18-24 year olds registering to vote as a result.

“We know how much this audience love their phones so it makes sense to talk to them encourage them to register to vote whilst they are already on their handsets,” added Nigel Clarkson, commercial director at Weve.

“They can register whilst in a coffee shop or waiting for the bus, the important thing is that they can participate in the forthcoming general election.”

It comes as Weve restructured its commercial team with a raft of new hires and promotions. Tom Pearman has been promoted to sales director which will see him manage three agency group heads and a client and brand group head.

The restructure has also seen the research and marketing teams bought together and centralised under the control of Nigel Kwan, the former Microsoft, News Int and PHD strategist, as the newly-appointed group head of marketing and research.

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