How political ads are changing in 2020

With many US consumers continuing to hunker down at home and many stating a mistrust of ‘fake news’ on both social networks and television, political advertisers are wondering how to best connect with their constituents as the race for the White House and many Congressional seats heat up. We spoke with two digital experts about how the political ad space has changed so far in 2020.

Raquel Rosenthal, CEO, Digilant: Less of a focus on social due to brand safety and consumer trust issues and a greater focus on putting ad dollars towards channels like display and CTV and publishers (esp publishers part of PMPs) with greater transparency and reporting on brand safety metrics that advertisers care most about.

Lauren Ohlsson, Regional Account Director, West, Social continues to secure a large percentage of digital budgets, but CTV is growing exponentially. CTV stands out because of its ability to target at the household level and can target down to political affiliations of voters in the home. This will grow in anticipation of the election, as investment increases for awareness and issue-based advertising, as well as GoTV (Get Out the Vote) campaigns.

Kristina: How do you think this will impact voter turnout, either at the polls or via mail?

Lauren: Campaigns will need to message voters with the appropriate options for voting in their specific regions. There will be an education/awareness focus to ensure voters are comfortable and confident placing their votes. GoTV campaigns will need to heavy up messages around registrations and polling options, especially as CTV audiences skew a bit younger and this may be a first voting opportunity.

Kristina: We’re seeing a lot of ad dollars going online, to social and digital publishers. What about CTV and television advertising – how important will these be for political advertisers?

Raquel: Young voters are expected to play a significant role in 2020 elections and beyond. There are over 47 million 18- to 29-year-olds eligible to vote this election season and 61% of them (according to a GWI study) report that online streaming is the primary way they watch television CTV allows political advertisers to reach this influential audience by targeting them across relevant CTV publishers to raise awareness and drive younger voters to the polls. With the political advertisers we are working with, we are seeing CTV/OTT advertising investments falling second only to paid social…in other words we are seeing CTV/OTT outspending channels like search and traditional display.

Lauren: CTV’s explosive growth was due in part to many millions of Americans on lock-down in March and April. According to Comscore, the average OTT connected home watched over 100 hours of content in April alone. The ample availability of inventory and targeting features (household targeting, geo-level, and voter-level targeting) makes CTV advertising an appealing option to campaigns.

Kristina: For CTV, specifically, what benefits are there for advertisers?

Raquel: Scale audiences with look-alike targeting: political advertisers reach more high-propensity voters by profiling and targeting users who look and act like known voters. Regional Targeting: Political advertisers can use localized targeting to reach eligible voters in regions.

Lauren: Availability of CTV inventory is one major benefit for advertisers. Given many more individuals are working from home, there has been a documented increase in CTV/OTT consumption. At the same time, the proliferation of placeholder network static ads running in place of actual advertising on connected TVs/OTT devices provides us insight into the availability of inventory. This availability provides political advertisers with the opportunity to reach voters with a lean-back experience. Additionally, advertisers have many buying models available to them for CTV/OTT. Media buyers can purchase directly from the traditional network/site or choose to access lower cost inventory through the exchanges. With the new addition of third-party monitoring services such as Double Verify, media buyers and clients can have a new level of transparency to ensure brand safety. Lastly, advertisers can benefit from CTV’s cost effectiveness. When targeting is layered onto CTV buys, it can reach relevant audiences efficiently. Taking an audience buying approach may have a slightly higher price, but the value of reaching the right people at the right time is no doubt appealing to media buyers.

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