Editors' pick: Originally published August 26.
The role of online media has not surprisingly played a huge role in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and this means more than Donald Trump's unfiltered tweets.
Campaigns are using highly targeted ads to reach voters on social media. Via algorithms, they are able to pinpoint voters behavioral patterns and reach them when they are most receptive to messaging. Millennials, who have become the country's largest demographic, are particularly reliant on mobile technology and the internet for their information.
This is a continuation of trends that started with President Barack Obama's successful use of social media to win the 2008, and even more, the 2012 elections. Obama made particularly effective use of Twitter in rallying voters.
"Part of the reason for the Obama victory was the campaign's ability to mobilize the vote, and it used a lot of data to do that," said CSC's Enterprise Intelligence Practice head, Alex Black,
The 2012 presidential campaigns showed that when used effectively, data analytics could be more effective in engaging voters than older methods. Obama's campaign famously built an analytics staff of 100 to ensure that the campaign had an edge over Republican nominee Mitt Romney. According to That included 20 analysts and 30 specialists in field data interpretation.
The number of social network users has increased from 1.4 billion in 2012 to 2.3 billion in 2016. Tech savvy millennials have made up a large part of that growth, and with streaming services expanding, the number should continue to rise.
According to a March 2015 research study, 88% of surveyed Millennials said they use Facebook (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report to find news, and Trump won the Republican nomination in no small part because of his use of Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report.
Facebook is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. See how Cramer rates the stock here. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells FB? Learn more now.
Among more recent initiatives, Ulection aims to grow interest among voters, particularly Millennials, in politics. The site currently covers the presidential candidates' speeches and activities and links to a range of news articles.
Other technology providers, such as CDW, Yuma Solutions and Bluewolf, have benefited from different campaigns.
CRN reports that the 22 current and former 2016 candidates spent $3.69 million with 67 solution providers alone through the end of January this year.
According to latest campaign filings, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has spent almost $8.4 million in July on "digital and online advertising." His Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton spent just $132,500 on digital media.
Trump has trailed in most national polls, in some instances by double-checks. More importantly, he is behind in the electoral college and has lost ground in so-called battleground states, according to information collected by the website RealClearPolitics, which averages poll results nationwide.
But Trump is winning by some measures of social media popularity. He has 10.4 million likes on Facebook compared to Clinton's 5.3 million likes, and he has 11.1 million Twitter followers compared to Clinton's 8.42 million followers.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.