When President Barack Obama steps on stage tonight to give the State of the Union, he will tell the 316 million residents of the United States that that state of the union is strong. As he delivers his address, millions of people online will queue up their snarky commentary to post on Twitter and Facebook.
The state of public engagement is strong, as well, and as the President details his plans for the coming year, Microsoft will track the voice of the people as they react to politics’ biggest night. The computing giant is partnering with CNN and MSNBC, which will use the Bing Pulse 2.0 platform to gauge audience sentiment in real time.
“We know that 80 percent of a viewing audience is also looking at another device,” Microsoft General Manager of Corporate Strategy and former Clinton speechwriter Josh Gottheimer told us. “Bing Pulse enables an audience to sync the content of their second device with that of the broadcast or event their viewing.”
CNN and MSNBC will use the Bing Pulse 2.0 platform to gauge audience sentiment in real time.
That means you won’t have to wait for pundits and analysts to take to arguing with one another on a panel after the speech — you can be the spin yourself as it happens. “The days of wondering what people think about a speech are over. Today instant feedback is wanted and valuable. Second screen experiences and participatory television are attracting millions and we’re thrilled to support our partners whether they are broadcasters, meeting and event producers, researchers or anyone looking for real-time feedback,” Gottheimer said.
Even in an era where we’re constantly sharing, it can be hard to get a feel for any consensus on the issues. Heading into the State of the Union, the President’s approval rating is on the rise. It seems entirely contrary to the sentiment the nation projected after a Republican clean up during the 2014 midterms just a few months prior. Things are as muddled as they’ve ever been. Gottheimer told us, “We can’t predict how audiences will respond to tonight’s address but we know from experience they will weigh-in and illuminate instantly what people are thinking. This intelligence has value whether you are a news person, the speaker or the audience.”
Viewers of the State of the Union can go to bing.com/CNN or pulse.msnbc.com to access the social analytics platform and add their beat into the pulse of the nation. Users will be part of millions contributing their voice to the nationwide choir—watch carefully and you’ll probably even see Vice President Joe Biden inputting his vote when he’s not too busy searching for a subwoofer on eBay to install in his Trans Am.
The anonymous voting system allows the engaged electorate to vote as often as every five seconds, registering positive or negative feedback to the President. Twitter users can also take part in the conversation by using the hashtag #BingSOTU.
Bing Pulse isn’t new to the State of the Union. It first debuted with Fox’s broadcast of the 2013 annual address. It has since appeared on CNN during the 2014 election coverage, MSNBC’s Great Debate series, and broadcasts on ABC, CBS, and CNBC. MSNBC plans to integrate the platform into its many aspects of its programming schedule, including regular use during the 2016 election.
Gottheimer explained that the information gleaned by Bing Pulse is important in deciphering the mood of the nation and helps to answer the question of “How are these messages landing on the ears of the intended audience?”
The immediate reaction may also give a truer sense of the viewing audience’s feelings on the speech. Polls taken after the fact are subject to the hours talking head analysis that can seep into viewer sentiment.
When asked if he would approach speeches any differently with today’s technology, Gottheimer replied, “We’ll leave speech strategies to the experts. Our goal is to provide audiences with an exciting experience and a voice in the conversation.” Spoken like a true politician.
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