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Digital political ads: Campaigns take advantage of the popularity of digital media with political ads

Digital Political Ads: Blockbuster Year Good News for Programmatic

August 15th, 2016   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon

According to eMarketer, estimates show that digital political ads will top $1 billion this year. This is compared to $270 million in 2014, $160 million in 2012, and $20 million in 2008—the last presidential election with no incumbent. Although television is still the dominant media for political ad spend, it lost share. Meanwhile, digital represents the fastest growing outlet with quadruple growth over the last two years.


This rise can be attributed to several factors, including an increase in availability and consumption of digital video, networks, and devices with more data capacity, growth in mobile video, and the success of digital in past elections.

For starters, it’s been widely reported that the victorious Obama campaign spent double the amount opponent Mitt Romney did on digital ads in 2012. Not only that, but the Obama campaign is said to have microtargeted all the voters who had put him into office in 2008, according to DigiDay. This could be considered evidence of the efficacy of personalized messaging, which is a bailiwick of programmatic technology. Data-driven advertising can now be done on an impression basis, which means politicos can find key voters and send them arguments that will hold the most weight.

More Technology, More Capacity

Since the last presidential election, the capacity of devices has increased significantly, as has network bandwidth, with many service providers offering upwards of one hundred Mbps for their residential offerings. As a result, supply and demand are egging each other on.

Content providers have also been able to bring more video online. The more there is, the more consumers seem to want. And, for politicians, the much sought-after and sometimes evasive group of millennial voters are the most likely segment to be tuned in via IP instead of television, according to Nielsen data reported by TheStreet. Millennials are also mobile, with 60 percent living in a house without a landline phone, and with smartphone adoption widespread, the user experience is rich and graphic intensive. As a result, mobile stands to take in 42.5 percent of the digital video ad spend this year.


For an example of how effective all this intense pinpointing is, take a look at Facebook, which some say stands to profit extensively during this year’s election cycle, The Guardian noted. Campaigns can match their voter data with Facebook accounts, to find the segment they’re looking for and talk directly to them.

Additionally, Facebook has launched “influencer tracking,” which helps campaigns locate users who “like” political content often. The campaigns can then target these individuals with the hopes that they’ll share the content they read or view. The company also now offers mobile video ads and has highlighted its relevance by noting that one of every five minutes Americans spend on smartphones happens to be on Facebook.

The focus on digital political ads, including the focus on the social media sites like Facebook, is a good sign for programmatic technology, not just in the digital arena, but in television as well. The more success programmatic buying has on an ever-growing scale, the more campaigns and advertisers will push for the capability in TV and the more inventory that is likely to come available to meet the demand. Similar to how targeting works for digital, programmatic TV uses data-driven buying to match the message with the consumer and also automates parts of the buying and selling process.

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