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What GOP Ads Can Teach the TV Industry

July 5th, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler

What can an industry learn from GOP ads? The Republican National Convention reserved $150 million in digital video ads this election year, according to AdAge. The party’s largest investment to date is part of a plan to reach women, Hispanics, and millennials. The television industry should be asking itself: How would spending have differed if TV offered greater targeting abilities?

Targeting Demographics

The ad spend—the largest portion of which went to Google—is intended to target important demographics in swing states during election season. Some of the inventory is to be used on Spanish language sites, with formats including premium video, mobile video, and prominent placements on websites, and the timing of the GOP ads is specific to certain milestones: debates, early voting, and more.

Meanwhile, in the Democrats’ camp, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders garnered attention earlier in the year for his use of digital targeting. New Hampshire Public Radio reported Sanders’ campaign was using data to effectively target voters, seeing email conversion rates twice those of other candidates, and drawing more website traffic than all other presidential candidates earlier this year.

Politico reported earlier this month that Hillary Clinton’s super PAC is beginning its own $35 million digital ad campaign by running digital video ads targeted at Hispanic voters. So what does this widespread shift in campaign spending mean for television?

TV Implications

The specificity of the strategy speaks to the power of digital media, but it also reveals a huge opportunity for television. In many ways TV has been the original targeted platform, with some location data in addition to television programming information. However, that is clearly no longer enough.

The campaigns mentioned use a variety of data in their execution: location data, age, cultural information, timing related to other events, language preference, and more. Television needs to catch up and offer advertisers, like these politicians, the ability to target viewers at the same level.

By leveraging those pieces of information, programmatic TV automates the buying process and allows advertisers to be specific, spend money on the viewers that are important to them, and integrate their television ad purchases with other campaigns for an omnichannel approach.

Rather than lamenting a shift in spending to digital inventory, the television industry should learn from this year’s presidential campaign and take the hint. Targeted advertising may be new now, but it will soon be the standard. By embracing this reality, broadcasters can provide the inventory advertisers are looking for and take a piece of the pie.

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