Tech Lessons from Israeli Elections

Benjamin Netanyahu
The Associated Press

In an analysis of how the recent Israeli election was shaped by the use of mobile media, Israeli startup notable Gilad Bechar, who helps startups Microsoft Accelerator, The Technion, Tel-Aviv University and Unit 8200, writes at that the next U.S. elections will be influenced far more by mobile media than the standard practice of shaking hands and kissing babies–a prospect that should delight Silicon Valley.

Bechar points out that mobile media can target specific audiences more precisely, noting that Facebook’s mobile-only user base now numbers half a billion and Facebook native video attracts three billion views per day. He adds that many young people were unable to purchase an apartment, thus political parties could have formulated content vis-à-vis mortgage loans, for example, to elicit support from young voters.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Facebook debuted its “I voted” button in the Israeli election, which was a way of voters telling their friends that they voted, likely to prompt more young people to vote.

Michael Duncan, one of the leaders of the Harris Media, based in Austin, Texas, which used social media to aid Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful effort, said, “Israeli elections make our elections look really one-dimensional. You had six parties on the right, drawing support from the same pool. We had to reach out to people who’d been supported Kulanu and Jewish Home. I’ll tell you, the only thing similar to that in the United States is a crowded presidential primary.”

Bechar asserts that location-based targeting could be extremely effective in the U.S. because of the electoral system. He also notes that gamification techniques were utilized to great extent in the Israeli election, where ads centered on entertaining the public while subtly sending a political message instead of making the message explicit.

One example he cites was a “temple run” style game that featured the candidates of the party running the ad. Videos on social media were used widely in the Israeli election, even by Orthodox religious parties.