Ad-Saturated YouTube No Longer An Option For Many Political Campaigns

In a repeat of a phenomenon seen during other recent U.S. elections, many political campaigns are finding that the YouTube ad inventory they want is unavailable or priced beyond their means as the election approaches.

YouTube ad slots have become particularly scarce or nonexistent in swing states and states with tight Presidential and/or Congressional races.

YouTube has sold more than $139 million in political ads in the past month alone, ad CPMs have doubled in some cases, and smaller campaigns, in particular, are being forced to use other video platforms, reports Bloomberg.

Most reserved YouTube ad slots within YouTube’s most popular videos are snapped up early by well-funded campaigns, and unskippable ad format slots are in high demand. Both the Biden and Trump campaigns have spent “huge” sums on YouTube, including for high-visibility, top-of-homepage positions.



“A lot of late money that’s coming on board -- it’s difficult to find anywhere to put it,” Tim Cameron, co-founder of Republican-campaign political consultancy FlexPoint Media, confirmed to Bloomberg.

YouTube sometimes has to turn away as much as three quarters of the political ad placement demand in a given day, according to one unnamed source familiar with the company’s operations.

All of which obviously bodes well for YouTube and parent Alphabet Inc., which is scheduled to report its third-quarter results next week.

In Q2, pandemic-driven advertising cutbacks slowed YouTube’s advertising growth. The platform’s $3.81 billion in ad revenue was up from $3.6 billion in the year-ago quarter, but down from $4 billion in Q1 2020. 

Alphabet as a whole recorded the first revenue decline in its history in Q2, down 2%.

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