Originally in Street Fight Magazine.
As primaries begin for the 2022 midterm elections, politicians across the country are looking for an edge.
Political ad spending on midterm elections could reach a record $7.8 billion in the U.S. this year. In Texas alone, political candidates and PACs have already shelled out $11.6 million this election cycle, with two months still to go before runoff elections take place in the state.
While politicians and PACs compete for contributions, agencies are working behind the scenes to help their clients’ ad dollars go further. A political advertising tool recently unveiled by Simpli.fi claims to do just that, mixing address lists from data providers and first-party databases to increase match rates.
Simpli.fi CEO Frost Prioleau says the platform is helping advertisers target desired audiences at the household level, with the ability to scale campaigns to achieve stronger results at no additional cost.
“Every year, political advertising gets more digital. The 2020 election was the first major election year when CTV advertising was used significantly by political advertisers to target their audiences,” Prioleau says. “2022 will see a major acceleration of CTV advertising spending as well as adoption of blended digital advertising strategies that use a combination of CTV, mobile, and desktop advertising tactics.”
This isn’t the first time Simpli.fi has gotten involved in political advertising. The programmatic advertising firm has been touting localized programmatic as an untapped opportunity for political marketers since at least 2018. The company offers both managed and self-serve options, with a dedicated politically specialized service team.
Political advertisers have long supplemented their own first-party databases with address lists from third-party data providers to better reach their target audiences. What’s new this year has to do with the strategies being used to increase reach. Prioleau says more political campaigns are using data onboarding techniques that maximize match rates, enabling match rates of over 90%, compared to the 50% rate that most campaigns are used to achieving.
Prioleau predicts that political advertising will continue to become more digital and programmatic in future cycles. However, changes to identity solutions and privacy regulations continue to evolve, forcing adjustments.
One of the clearest examples of this involves Meta Platforms Inc., owner of Facebook, which has continued to shift its policy of banning new political advertisements in the final days before an election. Google is expected to make similar changes to its political advertising programs in the coming months. While it’s unlikely major digital platforms would pull the plug on political advertising entirely, campaigns are already being advised to rethink the methods they use for targeting specific audiences if some of the biggest sellers of digital ads pull back their offerings before the midterm elections.
“All targeting and data onboarding strategies must be thoroughly vetted against local privacy regulations, any political regulations, and also industry best practices,” Prioleau says. “Different states have varying rules related to political advertising, so advertising companies need to work with their partners to ensure compliance.”
The economic hardships and inflation concerns impacting so many areas of global life aren’t being felt in the political realm. Despite so much upheaval, Prioleau predicts that political advertising budgets will remain relatively stable in 2022.
“My expectation is that political advertising budgets will not be impacted by the post-pandemic, inflation-challenged environment that we are currently in and will likely still be in during the political advertising election cycle,” Prioleau says. “Political advertising budgets are largely driven by political fundraising, and that is continuing undeterred by the pandemic or inflation.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.