Home On TV & Video Political Advertisers Must Lean Into Advanced TV If They Want To Win Voters In 2020

Political Advertisers Must Lean Into Advanced TV If They Want To Win Voters In 2020


On TV and Video” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Brienna Pinnow, co-founder at Blinc Digital Group.

High-stakes political elections are around the corner. To motivate voter turnout and drive home key candidate and issue messages, ad spend levels are anticipated to break records. GroupM’s recent media forecast reveals political spend over this election cycle will top $10 billion in 2020.

From a media planning perspective, TV is traditionally the largest expenditure for any political campaign. If campaign managers want to be good stewards of each dollar donated to their organization, advanced TV advertising tactics are critical.

Why traditional TV buys don’t cut it

For decades now, mass media buys across TV have provided the most cost-effective way for political advertisers to reach a large number of eyeballs in a storytelling format. That media buying ideology no longer holds water. Why?

  • Since 2013, the number of “OTT Only” households has tripled.
  • Traditional television markets and political geographies rarely line up.
  • Nearly half of millennials and Gen Xers don’t watch any traditional TV. That means program-based buys focused on GRPs lead to media plans that only connect with older people and ignore younger, persuadable voters.
  • Ad fatigue associated with broadcast buys often delivers poor ad experiences that citizens view as wasteful, and may even lead to a negative impact on someone who would otherwise be a supporting voter.
  • Traditional TV buys suffer from opportunity loss by failing to leverage the rich targeting and measurement that exists today.

Why advanced TV is critical in 2020

Despite research that questions the effectiveness of TV advertising’s ability to radically shift the view of potential voters (not completely surprising as these aren’t ads for soda or toilet paper, after all), TV will remain a cornerstone in upcoming political advertising media plans.

If campaign leaders, however, are going to invest billions, it’s time for them to put down the billy club (aka broadcast TV) and stop browbeating folks with their message. Instead, they should leverage a more gentle, meaningful and surgical approach – advanced TV. Tactics like data-driven linear planning, addressable TV, CTV and OTT can not only help match the right message with the right voter, but also deliver it at the right frequency.

Challenges and benefits


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Bringing an advanced TV strategy to life is not without its hurdles. The process can feel fragmented. Should I use my DSP, work directly with a network or partner with platform like Roku? Inventory is limited. CPMs are not cheap. Interactive ads require extra work. And targeting precision is at the household level – not individual – which potentially dilutes the power of targeted messages when homes are divided politically.

On the flip side, parties and special interest groups have access to more data than ever. Not only can marketers use voter data, but they can augment this information with third-party data – such as information indicating how likely someone is to donate to a party or cause. Segmentation can also be utilized to highlight which issues matter most to an individual, to hyper-localize a campaign and to create custom or look-alike audiences.

Here are some more reasons advanced TV is poised to take center stage in 2020:

  • Expert Guidance – Every major TV and video company has staffed a team of political advertising experts to support campaign goals, with firewalls between GOP and Democratic selling teams.
  • Personalized Messaging – It’s now possible to deliver one-to-one messages to voters that align with their values, beliefs and behaviors. CTV and OTT also allow for interactive ad experiences, which could potentially become another source of audience insights used to optimize media decisions.
  • Scalable Audiences We are at the point of critical mass, with nearly three-quarters of the country owning a connected TV device.
  • Curated Experiences – Targeted TV supports better frequency management, so you aren’t over saturating particular groups or individuals. (Insert a slow clap from voters everywhere!) There is also an opportunity to coordinate sequential messaging across channels.
  • Measurement – TV shouldn’t be “set it and forget it” for any brand, let alone political advertisers. In a volatile environment, it is critical to measure the impact of your campaign message on your target audience. Advanced TV allows for advertisers to close the circle and understand what is happening in the real world.
  • Safety – In comparison to other channels or platforms previously riddled with political advertising controversy (cough-Facebook-cough), advanced TV offers a relatively curated, brand-safe environment.

You can’t buy a campaign victory with TV ads alone, but you can use advanced TV to tell the story you want, and at the right cadence, by speaking to an audience that is actually willing to listen.

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