Author: Al Behmoiras, Head of Political at Premion
The 2024 election campaigns are already heating up and poised to set new records in political ad spending for the 2023-2024 cycle, exceeding $10 billion — as candidates vie for the White House and the majority in both chambers of Congress, according to AdImpact. Capitalizing on insights garnered from the midterms, political strategists are doubling down on streaming as a crucial channel to reach voters. Underscoring the medium’s impact, today, nearly 40% of US households can only be reached through streaming TV, according to MRI Simmons*. What’s more in 2024, US adults are projected to spend 4 hours and 51 minutes per day watching TV — and 42% of that daily TV time will be spent streaming, according to eMarketer**.
When it comes to winning campaigns, every impression counts. The midterms solidified Connected TV (CTV) advertising as a must-buy for political advertisers to build a holistic media strategy to reach and win over voters. In fact, our survey with Campaigns & Elections, conducted earlier this year revealed that 70% of political advertisers intend to increase ad spending and allocate more budget to streaming for this election cycle.
In politics, decisions are no longer made around the dining table. Instead, they’re made in the living room, where households gather to stream their favorite shows — and it’s also where ideas are exchanged. Consequently, political marketers must factor in the co-viewing effect of CTV (multiple viewers watching television together). Co-viewing drives engagement and is closely tied to premium content — and our 2023 CTV/OTT Advertiser Study found that more than half of CTV/OTT advertisers agree that co-viewing is a value-add benefit of CTV/OTT advertising and provides a like-for-like comparison to linear TV.
So, what does a smart CTV plan look like and how can political marketers ensure they have access to the CTV inventory they need for this election cycle? With the intense demand for premium CTV inventory, and to steer clear of being preempted in a crowded political advertising landscape, political advertisers will look to secure preferred inventory placement. However, these opportunities will vary depending on the provider. Political campaigns should take a proactive approach by planning ahead and locking in inventory well in advance. This approach will safeguard against potential under-delivery in 2024, especially as we approach the crucial months of August, September, October, and ultimately, the November election day. Working with a trusted premium aggregator, that has curated many direct connections to premium inventory not only simplifies media buying but ensures political campaigns achieve the advantages of reach and scale.
Here are three winning CTV considerations for the 2023-2024 election cycle:
Prioritize CTV for an Effective, Complete TV Strategy
Political campaigns that have traditionally relied on TV must embrace CTV to broaden their outreach and connect with voters that are unreachable through linear TV alone. Without CTV, political marketers are missing out on a substantial portion of voters that are cord-nevers and cord-cutters. Moreover, a significant audience comprises occasional linear TV viewers who primarily consume content through CTV. Thus, it’s essential for political advertisers to include CTV as part of an integrated media plan to effectively reach diverse voter segments.
The Brand Safety Imperative in the Age of AI
The proliferation of AI presents substantial brand safety challenges for political campaigns, especially on digital and social platforms. As such, brand safety remains a paramount concern for political advertisers, where the choice of platform is often part of the campaign's message. CTV is undeniably the safer choice for aligning with trusted premium content. That said, brand safety risks can arise when political media buyers purchase CTV inventory through open exchanges, as there is little control over where ads may run — making brand safety, transparency, and algorithmic control concerns top of mind. Political advertisers should work with trusted providers committed to brand safety and look for the TAG Brand Safety Certified and Certified Against Fraud seals of approval. Collaborating with partners specializing in directly sourced, premium content becomes increasingly critical to safeguard political campaigns from reputational risks.
Beyond Targeted CTV Ads, Drive Action with Personalization
In the last midterm cycle, savvy political advertisers were accustomed to harnessing first-party data, such as voter files, donor lists, and supporter information, in tandem with third-party data to achieve precision CTV targeting. Many leveraged comprehensive datasets to zero in on voters based on district, political affiliation, income, education, and interests. Beyond this, the advent of new dynamic creative capabilities enables political campaigns to take this a step further to drive engagement and take action with personalized CTV ads and hyper-localized content. For instance, a campaign can use QR codes to enable the delivery of candidate information to a voter’s phone or even enabling a voter to use their phone to sign up to volunteer for a phone bank.
As the 2024 elections take shape, political campaigns that leverage the advanced capabilities of CTV as an integral part of a complete TV strategy will seize the opportunities for breaking through the noise to deliver personalized messages, especially in the battleground swing states that can decide the fate of the election. Choosing trusted CTV partners who can reach highly engaged voters with tailored campaigns in brand-safe premium content is the winning formula for achieving campaign victories.
* MRI-Simmons 2023 August Cord Evolution. © MRI-Simmons 2023. The data herein derives from a confidential, proprietary syndicated product owned by GfK US MRI, LLC.
** eMarketer; Average Time Spent per Day with TV, US, 2024, June 2023; eMarketer, Average Time Spent per Day with Connected TV, US, 2024, June 2023. Copyright © 2023 Insider Intelligence Inc. All Rights Reserved.