Making Ad Dollars Count for Your Candidate


By: Brian Garrigan, Vice President, Agency & Brand Sales,
Featured in MarTech Series.

The 2019-2020 election cycle saw over $8.5 billion spent on political advertising, which was 108% more than the previous record. This sets the stage for the 2022 midterm elections, as well as many other efforts leading up to it such as primaries, fundraising, causes, and more, to set a record for political ad spending. With higher stakes, it’s crucial to make the most of every ad dollar. Candidates need to reach the right voters in a way that is both seamless and efficient.

The current state of political advertising isn’t cutting it. Not only do most standards now yield less than desirable accuracy when it comes to targeting, they also take time to implement – and that time costs money. Political advertising solutions today must go beyond reach to be trackable, cost-effective, and time-sensitive. Advertisers need to be equipped with the right tools in their political marketing toolbox this year in order to ensure overall success.

Questioning the Status Quo

The traditional nuances of political advertising neutralized advertisers into accepting a 40-60% match rate, along with a three-to-five-day matching process with slower service turnarounds. This is largely due to the sheer number of players that are required to make political list targeting possible.

Unfortunately, this long-winded method does not meet the standards of today’s fast-paced political arena and poses serious challenges. Political advertisers must be able to turn around campaigns quickly and with a vastly superior match rate to be effective. Not to mention, costs are all over the board and typically unpredictable making budgeting an even greater challenge, especially as spend rises for these advertising campaigns.

Advertisers are comfortable looking at insight reports with CTR metrics because so much is geared towards the fact that there hasn’t been overly insightful data to review in the past; so, this has been the best way to gauge a campaign. As an industry, it’s time to start questioning these obstacles. The component of understanding whether your ad campaign works or not has never been challenged before, and it needs to be. While the current focus is on saturating a market, what good is that strategy if it’s not reaching the right demographic that the message of the campaign speaks to?

Political advertising capabilities today must reach a targeted audience and go beyond proving reach to proving action in order to measure success. Additionally, political advertisers require speed and accuracy to upload campaigns and should work with platforms that can achieve quick campaign turnaround and a higher match rate. The good news is that political advertising partners are finding ways to drive match rates with top political data providers upwards of over 90% while providing turn around in 24 hours or less.

Success Beyond the “Click”

The success of a campaign goes far beyond the reach of an ad. It’s also about the influence it has on the audience to visit a website, attend an event, donate, and in this case, vote. While knowing which candidate a person voted for would be useful, it is out of the question. There are other ways to measure the impact of a campaign to determine whether it achieved the desired outcome, such as tracking online actions or in-person visits. With this data, your advertising efforts can translate into action and therefore allow advertisers the ability to adjust and refine campaign strategy.

Another factor to consider is the way advertisers are reaching their audiences. The days of mass advertising are in the past and what works for one audience doesn’t necessarily work for another. The wrong audience or the wrong message can seriously impact voter perception. While not everyone in the household shares the same views or beliefs, household-level targeting using address lists from trusted political data providers enhances a candidate’s ability to connect with meaningful voters.

It will be key for advertisers to work with ad platforms that are equipped with the necessary speed and agility in service to provide real-time insights and make the most of their political ad spend. Additionally, these insights can be used post-election for making informative decisions in future election cycles and with other candidates. Overall, these necessary advertising campaign tactics can lead to the ultimate goal – more votes for the candidate.

Progressing in Political Advertising

Political advertising is its own beast, and when it comes to getting a campaign right, the best solutions allow advertisers to get their message in front of the right audience and provide visibility into the impact of their campaigns, all while focusing on spending each ad dollar effectively. Throughout the 2022 midterm elections, we can expect to see even greater spend, especially when it comes to Connected TV advertising, as the data overlay and inventory available creates the perfect environment for political advertisers.

These higher stakes require a better understanding of how campaigns are influencing audiences. Along the same lines, agility and the ability to pivot mid-flight while a campaign is live will prove most helpful this upcoming election season, yielding a desirable outcome for political advertisers.

The standards in advertising are changing and the best advertisers require the right tools for political targeting and campaign measurement. These tools provide the necessary capabilities political advertisers are looking for to help prove the success of their campaigns. Advertisers need to partner with platforms that can activate their political campaigns in a single day and achieve a high match rate in order to drive efficiencies and performance.