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Twitter No Longer Takes Political Ads. Are You Ready to Capture That Ad Budget?

October 31st, 2019   ||    by Rick Howe

On Wednesday October 30, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “We’ve made the decision to stop all political advertising on Twitter globally.” The rest of his series of tweets follows here.

That announcement made the Monday, October 28, Advanced Advertising conference at NYC TV week, the “Voting for Advanced Advertising” panel (moderated by CNN’s Zain Asher) particularly timely.

Whether or not Facebook follows suit, the clear opportunity is for television, particularly local broadcast television, to take up the slack and capture the advertising dollars that would have been spent on social media.

The Monday panelists were apparently not aware of the pending Wednesday Twitter announcement, but their comments about the relative value of digital vs. linear (broadcast) television were prescient.

Evan Tracey, SVP for National Media, the GOP’s political ad agency, said “During the last 30-60 days of an election, you don’t know how much money you’re going to have from a campaign standpoint. You may raise $100,000 at an event that you didn’t expect. It used to be that money just came to the traditional TV buyer. Now it’s a ‘Jump Ball’ where everybody says ‘get the digital people on and get the TV people on’ and let’s make a case for how to spend this money’. So that’s another thing for television media sellers to be ready for. Know what it is that you can do and be ready to move quickly.”

And with Twitter out of the game, there is more money available for television!  And more for broadcast than digital/OTT advertising. It’s the fraction of a fraction, of a fraction, of the problem with targeted media.

Jeff Haigney, Ampersand’s senior VP political sales, pointed out that up to $6,000,000,000 will be spent during those last 30-60 days in the upcoming election. But OTT doesn’t really work: “An average congressional district has 750,000 votes, and half of those will show up to vote for a given election. Maybe 10% of those are persuadable voters. So, all of a sudden, you’re going from 3/4 of a million people down to 30,000 people that you’re trying to reach. So, I can maybe get a 10-15% match rate on OTT, and I have to go to eight different providers to reach them. It’s just really difficult to operate in that space.”

Sara Fagan, CEO for Deep Root Analytics, suggested the opportunity for television over digital: “What political operatives typically do is, if they’re not completely certain about digital or OTT, they’ll go back to what they know.” And that’s television.

Steven Passwaiter, Kantar/ Campaign Media Analysis Group vice president and general manager, said “What’s clear about all of this is that buying television in any form is not a frictionless issue. It takes a lot time and work to buy local broadcast, and I know that people like Videa are trying to make it easier. That’s going to help reduce some of that friction.”

Passwaiter added, “Politicians are like car dealers. They can’t see themselves in video often enough!”

National Media’s Evan Tracey concluded, “Remember that, in retail terms, an election is the ultimate ONE DAY Sale. So, if it’s video, we’re going to buy it.”

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