This article originally appeared in MediaPost
By: Frost Prioleu, CEO and Co-Founder of Simpli.fi
Over the past decade, presidential candidates have increasingly embraced new channels for their campaign and communication strategies. While social media remains important for candidates for the 2020 election, so does OTT/CTV advertising to deliver highly impactful TV ads with the precision of digital advertising.
Social Media: A Political Game Changer
Candidates have flocked to the platforms where voters are interacting, since seven in 10 Americans use it, according to Pew. Facebook launched advertising in 2007 — and by 2016, Facebook had expanded the targeting options that leveraged its vast pool of user information. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton spent $81M combined, per Tech Crunch, on Facebook ads for the 2016 election. That number will likely increase in 2020.
However, usage of social channels by foreign groups led to backlash against political advertising on social media. Google has restricted the granularity of targeting and Twitter banned political ads altogether. Facebook allows targeting of electorate demos and does not police the veracity of messages being advertised; however, it offers controls. Users can reduce the number of political ads for the 2020 election.
What’s Ahead for the 2020 Election
While we’ll likely see social media spending increase for the 2020 election, a couple of major trends could sway campaigns to move more ad spend to OTT/CTV.
In the last three years, streaming television usage has grown tremendously. According to 2016 Comscore data, more than 49 million Wi-Fi connected homes in the U.S. streamed video content over the internet through OTT services. Popular OTT services, such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, and Sling, are expected to headline a list of streaming services that will net a total of 191.5M subscribers this year.
According to eMarketer forecasts, the OTT/CTV ad spend will reach $10 billion by 2021. Due to the social distancing and “stay at home” policies, streaming TV usage is accelerating and likely will outstrip these pre-pandemic projections.
While much of streaming TV is ad-free on Subscriber Video On Demand (SVOD), there has also been tremendous growth of Advertiser Video On Demand (AVOD). In fact, Digital TV Research said global revenue from AVOD distribution will nearly triple from $21.9 billion in 2018 to around $56 billion by 2024.
Political Advertisers Love TV
Political ads are all about storytelling, which is why candidates have relied heavily on TV ads. In the past, banner advertisements on digital outlets like social media platforms and websites offered precise targeting, but the mediums limited the ability for candidates to share their story. Consequently, most political spending on digital formats focused on fundraising efforts, while storytelling relied heavily on TV advertisements.
However, political advertisers using linear or broadcast TV were limited in their ability to target specific audiences with their TV ads. Instead, like other TV advertisers, they relied on the demographics of the viewers for a specific show to reach their desired audience.
With OTT/CTV advertising, advertisers can target audiences with their TV budgets as precisely as they previously did with their digital budgets. This includes addressable advertising that targets individual households, based on past political contributions, party affiliations, voting records, household income, purchase history, and a wide range of demographic variables.
It also enables targeting audiences, based on visits to particular events (e.g. political rallies) as well as web-content consumption about political topics.
With savvy digital advertisers engaged in the 2020 race, OTT/CTV advertising becomes a key tool as the heated political races head into the fall.