Candidates Who Ignore CTV Advertising Do So at Their Peril

40% of persuadable voters are cord-cutters, and they don't trust social ads.

2020 has already proven to be an unprecedented election year. The Covid-19 pandemic, high voter intent and shifts in how Americans consume media have reshaped the campaign cycle. With 40% of persuadable voters no longer reachable via traditional cable or satellite, marketers must adapt their voter outreach.

To understand how today’s voters are getting their information and the most impactful media for engaging them, Magnite conducted a study, The Power of CTV: Reaching Persuadable Voters in 2020.

What we found is that connected TV (CTV) will play a pivotal role in reaching the persuadable voters needed to win the election. Here are a few highlights from the study:

Reach persuadable voters where they are

Persuadable voters—which are defined as independent or undecided voters—make up 30% of the electorate. According to our survey of a nationally representative sample of 4,500 respondents who use at least one streaming service, 40% of these persuadable voters are cord-cutters and unreachable via cable or satellite TV. Here, CTV presents a boon for marketers, offering everything from greater reach to a brand-safe environment for their campaigns.

There are now more U.S. households with a connected TV than a traditional pay-TV connection, according to eMarketer. Economic hardship brought on by the pandemic has further tipped the scales. In the first quarter of 2020, nearly two million households dropped their pay-TV subscription. This translated to more time spent on streaming platforms, especially on ad-supported, streaming services (AVOD). According to our study, 76% of AVOD users we surveyed are streaming more now than pre-Covid-19 and 40% are watching five hours more per week.

CTV targeting eliminates wasted impressions

CTV offers the ability to target beyond DMAs, giving political advertisers more control over how they disperse their message across an election map. Addressable advertising also allows data-infused, pinpoint targeting which eliminates wasteful, or un-targeted impressions. Further, addressable CTV targeting is more cost-effective than national TV CPMs, which garner significant premiums when layering in targeting.

People don’t trust social ads

CTV provides political campaigns with premium, brand-safe environments that viewers trust. This juxtaposes social media platforms, where credibility is lacking. In fact, 72% of respondents used words such as untrustworthy and deceitful to describe political ads on social media.

Video-first campaigns are more engaging

Social distancing has made in-person events such as rallies virtually impossible. Here, a video-first strategy has become critical in establishing an emotional connection to candidates. CTV content that captures sight, sound, and motion has proven more engaging than static ads. According to our study, 75% of Americans prefer political ads that have video.

Perhaps most importantly, CTV ads are not only more engaging but highly actionable. A majority (70%) of CTV viewers took an average of two actions, be it making a donation or going to a candidate’s website after seeing a digital video political ad.

Achieving scale, flexibility, and efficiency

To launch CTV campaigns that are flexible, precise and scalable in a premium marketplace, marketers need the right partner. As the largest independent omnichannel sell-side advertising platform in the industry, Magnite has access to an unparalleled range of premium CTV inventory and publisher relationships. Our ease of activation has proven to be a particular asset in the dynamic political landscape—-be it going live with a CTV campaign within the hour, or pivoting messaging to keep up with the 24-hour news cycle.

With time of the essence, persuadable voters are waiting to hear from candidates. Not convinced? 73% said they will pay more attention to political ads this election compared to the last one. A majority of all voters (60%) want to hear from all candidates. Meanwhile, 88% of Americans surveyed plan to vote in the Presidential election, indicating a highly energized electorate.

To heighten the stakes, with a significant portion of voters opting for mail-in voting, the campaigning period has narrowed, making it imperative to reach voters precisely and earlier than previous election cycles. Currently, more than half (53%) of persuadable voters say they are paying attention to political ads now while 47% plan to between now and Election Day. Here, CTV’s flexibility, powered by programmatic, enables advertisers to quickly launch or alter video campaigns, budgets, and pacing to get the right message to the right voter at the right time.

Ultimately, with its reach, scale and ability to target persuadable voters where they are, CTV presents a win for political marketers looking to drive results at the ballot box.

As senior director of political demand sales at Magnite, Dan Fairclough educates and advises political advertisers and agencies on how to effectively use CTV and OTT to accomplish their campaign goals. Previously, Dan held roles at Hulu and AT&T.