Political Ads Through Programmatic Channels Streamline Approval Process For CTV

Basis Technologies Senior Vice President Grace Briscoe can tell marketers a lot about the process to activate political ads in connected TV (CTV).

The digital approval process can be lengthy because humans must review the content and verify the buyers and sellers.

This is the way that most media works for political ads, including across Google’s and Bing’s search networks.

Previous elections, Briscoe says, have shown that more than 50% of digital ad budgets was spent in the final 30 days before election day, according to Basis Technologies, based on numbers gathered from the past few elections.

“There’s a perception, right or wrong, that voters have a short attention span, and … it’s difficult to keep their attention through the election process for multiple months,” she said. “

Basis Technologies’ internal data shows an overwhelming majority of digital spend for the midterm elections may be transacted through programmatic channels, with a significant amount served on CTV devices.



This is mainly because the majority of political ads are served in real-time in a compressed timeframe. Political advertisers that want to reach voters during the most critical parts of the elections season will need to find ways to streamline this process.

Briscoe, who has led the company’s political advertising practice for the past 15 years, offered up some advice.

In 2020, the company handled more than 400 political campaigns for the general elections.  

This year, on the assumption that CTV advertising will become an important tactic for political campaigns, the company arranged agreements with Beachfront, Magnite, and Xandr as key supply side platform (SSP) partners among 250 curated private marketplace deals for political ads in Basis.

Private marketplaces are a major piece of this puzzle, she said, especially within the CTV space.

While Basis declined to provide the number of clients it supports for political advertising, the percentage of ad spend in political campaigns transacted through its platform is roughly 15% in any given election year.

Within digital, 70% of the dollars spent for political advertising with Basis goes through programmatic. Within programmatic, the big trend is the shift toward CTV. In the past, 60% to 65% of spend went to video ads. Briscoe estimates that at least that much will go toward video this year.

Programmatic advertising is being used for its speed and responsiveness. It requires less advance bookings, and speaks to specific voters, she said.

‘We see search used, but it’s a smaller piece of the spend,” she said. “As election day gets closer, more people google information on candidates, polling places, and registering to vote.”

The most important and valued data used, voter file data. Each state maintains data on registered voters. It doesn’t contain voter preference, but rather age, location, if the person is registered with a party and if he/she voted in the last election. The data is made available to run phone banks, direct mail advertising, and anonymized for digital targeting.

Advertisers running political campaigns value the ability to reach likely voters. Most vendors do not have access to the data or layer it on to direct media buys, which is why many are shifting to programmatic.

“It’s a big part of the shift to connected TV,” she said. “The ability to have the feel and the emotional power on the screen, and the ability to make changes quickly through programmatic.”

Sending a broadcast order to a network and making a reserve buy is still a highly manual process, she said.

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