Learning From the 2022 Political Ad Tech Revolution to Prepare for 2024

The midterm elections are a big opportunity for political advertisers to prepare for the next presidential race

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Political advertising is in full swing as we head into the 2022 midterm elections this November. And it’s no longer at a crossroads. Advertiser budget allocations are already proving the days of antiquated campaign strategies are over.

Even without a presidential race at the top of the ticket, 2022 ad spend is expected to exceed the 2020 election cycle spend, reaching over $9 billion. According to AdImpact, overall digital political advertising spend, encompassing all online and connected TV (CTV), is expected to reach nearly $3 billion this year, up from $1.7 billion in 2020. CTV spend alone is projected to hit $1.5 billion, nearly one-third of linear TV spending, as campaigns try to reach voters where they engage with content.

The increased investments in CTV during this year’s midterms further highlight the consumer trend that media viewership across generations continues to shift more toward streaming platforms and away from linear TV. Political advertisers historically relied on traditional channels to reach the masses, and they have been slower to adapt to emerging channels when compared to other verticals. But, after months of strategic planning for the midterms, it became clear that if they want to effectively reach voters and drive them to the voting booths, they need to follow viewer eyeballs.

If political advertisers continue to follow consumer trends, 2024 may be the first time that digital budgets see their ad spend meet or even exceed traditional or linear budgets. The 2022 midterm elections represent a massive opportunity for political advertisers to gain valuable insights that will inform strategies in the 2024 election cycle. Here is a look at the different ways they can start preparing for that moment now.

Lean into data-driven advertising for better targeting

The success of political campaigns is ultimately contingent on whether the right voter was reached at the right time. With voter media consumption habits shifting away from traditional channels, the way to achieve this looks a lot different than in years past. That’s where data-driven advertising comes in.

Digital channels offer a massive opportunity for political advertisers this election cycle as they allow for a more granular audience and geo-targeting. This is incredibly crucial in all elections given that local political districts don’t always align with broadcast TV geographies or the DMAs where TV ads are bought and sold.

The ability to apply data in programmatic provides political advertisers with greater precision targeting capabilities in comparison to linear TV. Using more advanced targeting approaches, political advertisers can layer on publicly available data to allocate budget and only advertise to individuals who have not yet voted and avoid continuing to deliver ads to people who have already cast their ballot. Ultimately, by leveraging data-driven advertising, political advertisers can ensure they are reaching the right voters through advanced targeting capabilities and further reduce wasted ad spend.

These tactics are readily available to advertisers and the midterms give political buyers the opportunity to start to incorporate them into their strategies now so that they aren’t left behind in 2024.

Get out the vote through the channels that resonate most

Political campaigns began testing CTV in 2018 and 2020. But because the technology was still emerging, there wasn’t enough inventory and the targeting scale was limited, CTV was unable to capture a large portion of campaign budgets.

That’s all changed after the pandemic-driven streaming and ad tech booms of the past two years. With nearly 84% of U.S. households now consuming streaming video through a connected TV device at least once a month, political advertisers are recognizing the necessity of reaching voters through this channel amid the fragmented market.

CTV offers the ability to deliver a political ad across premium platforms with maximum efficiency in a matter of minutes, making connected TV an extremely effective tool for political advertisers.

With the CTV space only continuing to grow, we can expect to see additional platforms emerge, resulting in new inventory opening up ahead of the 2024 election. Political advertisers should be tapping into CTV now in order to fully understand the channel’s capabilities and how best to leverage it.

Get familiar with the technology that is available

Political advertising is an extremely nuanced vertical and therefore requires a nuanced solution that is built to solve the challenges and limitations that political advertisers are facing. Many major players have recently changed how they can or cannot support political ads, leaving advertisers unsure which platforms to tap into.

On top of this, state regulations, which impact how political advertisers can deliver ads in all 50 states, continue to evolve and change. It is necessary to have a knowledgeable and experienced tech partner that can address those needs and changes as they are happening.

Using the time at hand, political advertisers, and even publishers looking to get into the political advertising business, can test the technology to ensure they are set up and compliant with the regulations in place.

While this may seem overwhelming, political advertisers should be using this midterm election cycle to understand what technology is available to them, implement these solutions and determine who they can depend on now through Election Day in 2022, 2024 and beyond.

2022 could provide invaluable lessons for the next presidential race

Political advertising trends this midterm year matter, and close attention should be paid to them. This cycle could provide lessons learned ahead of the 2024 elections, where political ad spend in digital may finally overtake traditional channels.

It’s inevitable that the ad targeting landscape will look different in 2024, especially with increased CTV demand. As such, it’s essential that political campaigns lean into modern tools to reach modern audiences because traditional channels no longer hold the same relevance. Moreover, it’s time for buyers to embrace programmatic and CTV now so they are ready to leverage the latest tech available to them in 2024.