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The Power of Programmatic for Political Ads

Have you considered leveraging programmatic for political ads? With the elections coming soon and digital advertising spend increasing across all verticals, it’s expected that 2022 will see notable growth in political ad spend. This means that there’s no better time than now to adopt programmatic advertising as part of your political campaign strategy. 

In a discussion for the How Agencies Thrive podcast, we’re joined by Ryan Horn, the President at Bullhorn Communications and StackAdapt’s Katrina Moore to explore how political advertising is evolving, and how programmatic technology is helping agencies run political campaigns that thrive. 

Read on to learn 3 key insights from our discussion, or listen to the full episode, here

How Agencies Can Prepare for Upcoming Elections

Ahead of political cycles like the upcoming US elections, it’s important that agencies take steps to prepare their digital campaigns. This way, they can acquire new clients who are running political ads, support those clients, and keep them informed throughout the campaign cycle. 

According to Ryan, there are two main things that agencies should be thinking about. First, whether or not your agency has existing political clients, and how or if they are prepared to acquire political clients. Be sure to build your strategy to find political clients well in advance of an election.

The other key consideration according to Ryan, is to be prepared to educate your existing and new clients. Ryan says the changing nature of entertainment and media means that some candidates who are running for office aren’t familiar with current programmatic trends. They likely aren’t trained in marketing, and they might not know what programmatic channels like connected TV (CTV) are. Educating those clients about the fast changing nature of media and the programmatic landscape is a part of your job. 

Katrina agrees, and emphasizes that creating successful political ad campaigns starts with drawing insights from past political cycles. This is why it’s important to use off-cycle time to prepare for the on-cycle. 

For example, the 2020 political cycle turned out to be the most expensive in US history. Spending for both presidential and congressional races smashed records—and a big part of those campaign spends went to digital. This signals the growing importance of leveraging programmatic for political ads, and this can be communicated to clients. Lastly, Katrina explains that political campaigns are always fast-paced. It’s key that agencies are prepared to work with quick turnaround times and on tight deadlines. 

Benefits of Leveraging Programmatic for Political Ads

One of the greatest benefits of leveraging programmatic for political ads is that candidates can take advantage of emerging channels and tactics. Katrina explains that one emerging channel to note is CTV. She explains that while linear TV is still relevant, CTV is growing fast and offers unique opportunities. 

CTV is complimentary, and more measurable, and it helps political advertisers reach engaged audiences. Viewers watching CTV are highly engaged because they’ve made the active choice to watch the programming, and they do not have the option to fast forward or skip any ads 

Katrina and Ryan also point to brand lift studies as an important tactic that programmatic offers political advertisers. Political campaigners are always interested in polling. They want to know what the sentiment of people is, to see if they’ll vote for the candidate. 

This is where brand lift studies come in. According to Katrina, brand lift is a great way to measure attribution and voter sentiment on the digital landscape because it surveys people who have seen your ad campaign.

Advertisers can leverage a brand lift study to target potential voters. Katrina says they can ask about the issues those voters care about, or check if they’ll be voting in the upcoming elections. If they’re not registered or interested in voting, they can be supressed and the study can focus only on the users who are interested in certain causes, or are planning on voting. Katrina explains that then, retargeting can be leveraged to direct messaging toward the voters who are planning to go to the polls.

political playbook

Considerations for Planning Programmatic Political Campaigns

According to Ryan, there are a few things that advertisers should consider ahead of running a programmatic political campaign, including their strategy, the messaging, and the creatives that will be leveraged to reach voters. Ryan explains that to start, political advertisers should be considering how the campaign will get in front of people and capture their attention. 

Understanding who that candidate’s target audience is will help political advertisers to select the right formats and channels to run programmatic political ads on. Knowing the audience is the first step to building an effective political strategy.

Then, consider the campaign’s messaging. Ryan says it’s important to avoid recycled messaging. Learn about the running candidate and find ways to highlight their strengths and in a relatable way that speaks to the candidate’s ideal voter. Select ad formats that support this key messaging, and ensure those ads convey the right information, including when voters can go to the polls.  

Everything you put in front of your voter needs to be persuasive. Good production, strong scripting and a well-rounded narrative story is necessary. Creative contributes to how the candidate is projected to the voter, so be sure not to cut corners and budget when it comes to developing a campaign’s creative assets.

Listen to How Agencies Thrive For More!

According to Katrina and Ryan one of the best things advertisers can do ahead of elections is to find the right partners. Finding an agency that is educated about political advertising, as well as a DSP that offers features that support political campaigns is key. 

To hear more of the insights, tactics and predictions that Katrina and Ryan have to share about     programmatic for political ads, tune in to the latest episode of How Agencies Thrive

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