Digiday Research: Media, marketing, retail sectors reveal their top issues ahead of the 2020 election

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

When it comes to the top social and political issues at play in the 2020 presidential election, agency and brand world professionals think a lot alike— with a few notable exceptions.

In late September, 198 professionals in the fields of media, marketing and retail took a Digiday Research survey and chose three issues they thought were most important out of a list of 14. The issues ranged from economic inequality and social justice to taxes, from gun policy to the candidates’ personal integrity.

For the most part, agency and brand respondents hold eerily similar views of what’s important and what is not. Their industries’ respondents finished within five points of each other on nine of the survey’s 14 issues, and within two points on seven of those. By contrast, publisher respondents finished within five points of another industry on just six issues, only one of which — the economy —was identified as important by a double-digit percentage of each group.

However, brand and agency respondents diverged significantly on three issues. The first was social justice, which nearly half of brand respondents listed as a top priority, compared to a little less than one third of agency respondents. That disparity contrasts with all the conversation that agencies have participated in around social justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd’s earlier this year. The other was the candidates’ personal integrity.

Publisher respondents were concerned with different issues. Significantly larger percentages of them identified income inequality and the coronavirus response as top priorities compared to their agency and brand counterparts. More than twice as many of them identified foreign policy and national security as a top issue compared to brands and agencies.

Publisher respondents were also far less concerned about the environment than their buy-side counterparts.

Given such a long list of issues, there was a lot of variation in what respondents chose. Only one issue, the economy, was named most important by at least one third of all three industries’ respondents.

Two other issues, the environment and social justice, were cited as a top issue by at least a third of two industries’ respondents. A significant and similar share of each industry’s respondents listed Supreme Court appointments as a top issue.


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