Elections Getting More Lucrative For Ad Tech

If you haven’t yet gotten your fill of political campaign ads, you’ll be pleased to know the candidates’ marketing machines are only just getting started.

As the third and fourth quarters historically grab the bulk of campaign spending, political marketers are preparing to go full throttle in the weeks and months leading up to the ultimate Super Tuesday, November 8.

While TV and radio remain the dominant mediums for reaching voters, online has been capturing more of the candidates’ budgets over the years. It’s estimated that political ad spending will reach $11.4 billion in 2016, with $1B allocated to online, a nearly 5000% increase over 2008.

Each election year gets more lucrative for the ad tech industry, but the landscape changes quickly and what worked in 2012 might not be effective in 2016.

Here’s a closer look at the three biggest changes in ad tech since the last presidential election – programmatic, mobile and video – and what political marketers need to know to be successful.

The Rise In Programmatic Advertising

Expected to reach $20.41B in 2016, programmatic advertising’s appeal is rooted in its ability to hone in on an audience segment and reach voters with more targeted messages than TV or radio can deliver. It helps automate the media buying decision-making process by identifying specific audiences and effectively reaching them online.

Also, unlike TV or radio buys, political marketers that include programmatic as part of their larger strategy can adjust campaigns in near real time based on the voter’s engagement online.

Though not to be confused with a “set-it-and-forget-it” solution, campaign marketers that rely on programmatic need to work in concert with their vendors and publishers to ensure their messages are actually being seen by their target audience.

Mobile Ubiquity

Today, political marketers can quite literally be in the back pockets of voters as online traffic skews more to mobile devices and less to desktops. An effective mobile strategy should include the following three elements.

First, it needs to complement the larger campaign across devices and on traditional mediums such as TV and radio.

Second, the rise in mobile over the past four years also means it has significantly evolved, therefore impacting campaign marketers. According to Audience Partners’ CEO Jeff Dittus: “The old fashioned approach of solely relying on email to cookie or mobile ID as an onboarding method has become outdated. It is fraught with inaccuracy because it doesn’t take into account the voter experience across all the platforms, devices and mediums available today.”

Instead, take advantage of newer technologies, such as those matching voter file records to digital devices, as well as predictive analytics that can add another dimension for understanding voter behavior. 

Third, programmatic on mobile is a great way to reach voters, especially swing voters, while they’re waiting in line at the polls. While polling centers require physical campaigners to maintain a distance of between 50-100 feet, on average, from the voting booths, the requirements for mobile have not caught up to what’s happening IRL.

Video’s Rolling Thunder

Video continues to grow in popularity, but not just any video. Pre-roll videos, which appear before the content, can’t be skipped by the viewer and often appear on popular sites like YouTube and Hulu. Because of their ability to be seen in their entirety, pre-roll have been quickly selling out since late last year.

However, an alternative known as outstream video offers a compelling option. Outstream video often appears between paragraphs of text on a Web site and automatically plays as the viewer scrolls down a page. Paired with targeted content, outstream video is a viable option for campaign marketers to effectively reach voters though they must move fast as inventory in this category, too, is quickly being reserved.

As online campaign budgets increase and technology evolves, it’s important for campaign marketers to understand the nuances of digital media as we gear up for the critical third and fourth quarters of 2016.






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