The sprint to Election Day has begun, and political campaigns up and down the ticket are throwing millions of dollars into advertising.
Out-of-home has long been a favorite of those seeking to make a political statement. In 1517, Martin Luther’s “95 Theses,” nailed to the door of a church, became the catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Hundreds of years later, James Montgomery Flagg created the “I Want You!” poster of Uncle Sam. The poster has since become an iconic image in U.S. culture.
Campaign strategists know that billboards increase reach by as much as 340%, which is why in the first four months of 2020, political ad spending on OOH was up 75% versus 2018. Over the years, formats have evolved, but the motivation for using OOH has been the same: deliver your message clearly to the public.
But this is no ordinary year or election cycle. COVID has turned campaigning on its head. OOH has certainly not been immune to its impact, as lockdowns and quarantines diminished traffic and audience numbers.
But years of investment in technology and data are paying off. The pandemic provided OOH the ability to showcase the agility now available to political campaigns. Here’s how:
Finding the Voters with Data
Whether you’re a brand or a politician, your objective is delivering a message that resonates with the right audience at the right time. Daily traffic patterns and habits have shifted.
By using real-time mobility, location and traffic data, political campaigns can reach targeted voting audiences and deliver an impactful message via OOH. Voters may not physically be in the same places they were in 2018, but they’re out there, and OOH can find them.
Building Name Recognition with the Last Mass Medium
Voters are more likely to choose the candidates whose names they recognize. OOH gives candidates the ability to get their name in front of voters in a high-impact way. The Michigan congressional candidate Joe Schwarz strategically allocated a significant part of his budget toward OOH and saw a 12% lift in overall support for his campaign. OOH helps politicians ensure their names are familiar and known.
Reacting to the Ever-Changing Winds with Dynamic
Just as brand advertisers can use OOH’s dynamic creative capabilities to change messaging on a dime, so can campaigns. In today’s climate, the conversation can change completely in the time it takes to send a tweet. Candidates and their campaigns can leverage dynamic to respond to changing events and keep their message fresh, relevant and timely.
Programmatic Buying Reduces Costs, Enhances Precision
For local politicians further down the ticket, dollars need to work smarter. Programmatic buying of OOH allows campaigns to keep costs down, avoid long-term commitments and quickly shift spend from stronger to weaker areas, as needed, with precision.
Trust Has Never Been More Important, and Scarcer
Successful candidates win by building trust with voters. In today’s political climate, that’s hard to do. A recent Resonate survey found that almost 80% of voters are “probably skeptical” of Facebook campaign ads. OOH allows candidates to deliver a simple, straightforward message free from fraud or interference. OOH has always been regarded as a trusted channel — a highly valuable attribute during a time when trust has never been more important, and more elusive.