Bringing Transparency To Political Advertising On Connected TV

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, December 6, 2019
The 2020 elections are heating up and political advertisers are set to shell out record spending to drive home their campaign message and inspire voter turnout.

For 2020, Advertising Analytics  and Cross Screen Media forecasts $6 billion in political ad spending, including $1.6 billion for digital video. GroupM estimates political ad spending will approach $10 billion.

According to TVB, the record political ad spending is further intensified in the perfect storm of presidential battleground states with fiercely contested Senate and House races across Phoenix, Des Moines, Lansing, Charlotte, Philadelphia, La Crosse, Dallas and Houston markets. With historically high inventory pressures on local broadcast, political advertisers face even greater scarcity of inventory and higher advertising rates heading into 2020.

New innovations in ad-supported connected TV (CTV) and OTT also give campaigns the opportunity to bring data-infused contextual and behavioral targeting and attribution insights to match the right message with the right voter at the right frequency.



True transparency is needed, and political advertisers must ensure they are running brand-safe campaigns to effectively reach the right voters.

Personalization and targeting capabilities 

In the 2018 midterm elections, political advertisers understood the growing opportunities with OTT and that scale exists to reach intended voter audiences. Today, as political campaigns seek increased personalization, the focus is on driving measurable political campaign outcomes with attribution at scale.

Currently, the IAB reports nearly 60% of OTT viewers are 35+, the primary demographic for political media buys. By 2020, there will be 52 million GenZennials, voters ages 18-29, that equates to roughly 20% of the voting population. A Telaria/Sling study reveals that 90% of this group plan to vote in the upcoming primary and general elections. CTV is the medium of choice for consuming political content.

The use of first-party data, such as voter files, donor and supporter lists, and third-party data, such as Experian and Nielsen Scarborough, provides political advertisers with a powerful combination of data-rich digital targeting in a linear TV experience.

Not only can political advertisers leverage richer datasets to target voters by political affiliation, congressional district, income and education, it’s now possible to deliver tailored messages to voters aligned with their beliefs, behaviors and values on CTV campaigns.

By knowing who is watching a specific program and what device they are using, political advertisers can run different creative messages targeting different voters using dynamic ad insertion, which offers another source of audience insight to further optimize media buying decisions. In a high stakes political campaign, getting the right message out to sway undecided voters can literally make or break a campaign.

Fraud risk with open exchanges  

There’s a misconception that all OTT ads run in a brand-safe and fraud-free environment, but there’s a risk of fraud when buying CTV/OTT inventory on open exchanges. The lack of transparency and inherent brand safety risks are concerning when dealing with open exchange platforms — given the unknown sources of content and blind bidding process. Political advertisers should buy directly sourced inventory.

Imperative for verified impressions 

Having verified impressions is a top priority for political campaigns. During peak political windows, traditional TV prices skyrocket significantly across markets, which means a campaign may easily get preempted and priced out. 

While CTV campaigns offer price stability, it's important to work with providers that can provide true performance and attribution measurement to verify ad buy performance, how it was delivered and if it allows for attribution conversion of an audience.

A carefully crafted message that speaks to the right voters and at the right cadence is fundamental for driving political campaign outcomes — and CTV is quickly becoming part of the media mix for political advertisers.

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