Regardless of your political position, the race for the White House is really just starting to heat up. Both candidates and their parties have war chests of campaign funds already raised and are looking to spend in the most effective way possible.
This influx of advertising should be a boon for the digital video space, namely Web publishers. But there’s a big problem: inventory. This problem stems from a lack of online video inventory for the parties to spend against. Even as video content and the resulting ad dollars have moved from the back burner of every publisher’s to-do list to the top of their priorities, one issue that still plagues the media planning and buying community in election season is that publishers have not adapted fast enough to incorporate video into their online channels.
The recent study “Off the Grid 2012” by Say Media points to the enormous potential that digital video holds for political parties and publishers alike. According to the study “more than 40% of likely voters prefer to consume video content via sources such as computers, phones and tablets, DVD and DVRs, as opposed to live TV.” The study also showed potential voters watched about 20 hours of video per week, but nearly half of that programming is not being consumed via live television.
Voting audiences are watching online and advertising dollars are waiting in the wings; there are just not enough video streams at these publisher sites to match to political campaigns. Rob Saliterman, head of Republican advertising outreach for Google, experienced this firsthand, stating in Politico that “There has been incredibly strong demand for online video advertising inventory in targeted states, so there is virtually no 30-second inventory left for the fall.” As evidence of this, Democrat John Oceguera’s campaign suffered the fallout of the shortage when he couldn’t buy any prime-time pre-roll online ads due to the shortage.
The solution for this shortage will come from publishers and political parties branching out to find the voting audience where they watch video content. It is common knowledge that both Republican and Democratic camps want and need to reach “swing” or “undecided” voters. Given the size and diversity of that audience, utilizing demographic and geographic targeting of US 18+ voters across a variety of websites will provide each party with huge audiences to message to and hopefully influence. But these key voters are not spending all day online going to “issues” or “candidate” sites. They are following their diverse interests at destinations where each political party can reach voters.
Luckily, today’s web publishers have a large field of video solutions that can help them smoothly integrate online video into their platform, whether they need technology, content, or both. No matter their website context, chances are there is relevant, quality video content they can use through various economic models. One thing is for sure, while YouTube might provide embeddable videos for publishers, there is no real monetization model for that. Election season or not, publishers adding monetizable video content to their sites will gain a multiplier effect: the more quality video they have on their website, the more opportunities they have to deeply engage visitors and monetize those video views with higher-paying video ads.
Regardless of our partisan country, our people have something in common: they are watching videos and will keep watching. Campaign advertising is already there; publishers just need to tap in to reap the rewards.