Digital marketing and political ads in 2024

With a projected $16 billion ad spend on the horizon in 2024, political campaigns are setting the stage for a media blitz like no other.  From massive fundraising efforts to promoting candidate issues, the race is on to win the hearts and minds of the electorate with digital media again at the forefront of the advertising spectrum. In this election cycle, political advertisers must navigate an ever-changing digital landscape based on current trends and new laws. Below we review three important topics.:

  • Programmatic over-the-top/connected TV usage – While broadcast television still plays a large role in election campaigns, a shift in viewer habits continues. According to an August 2023 report by Axios, American broadcast and cable usage in July of the same year dropped below 50% of total usage for the first time. Marketing research company Inside Intelligence, formally eMarketer, predicts 69% of Americans will use a CTV device in 2024.[1]

Leaning into a programmatic OTT/CTV strategy gives political advertisers the ability to target households on a more granular level than cable, such as through age, gender, IP address and interests. Another advantage involves real-time reporting, allowing buyers to measure campaign effectiveness immediately. These platforms offer a more engaging and easily shareable format for conveying messages, reaching younger demographics, and going viral. Some limitations exist though. Disney+ and Netflix do not allow political advertising on their platforms.

  • Regulations – It has been widely reported Americans were exposed to more misinformation on digital platforms in 2020 than ever before. Tech companies are under increased scrutiny to monitor political messaging for accuracy. Some platforms are already taking initiatives. Meta and YouTube now require advertisers to disclose when they use artificial intelligence in ads. Because the Federal Communications Commission does not regulate federal political advertising online, statehouses across the country have enacted regulations for more transparency. Examples include sponsorship disclaimers on ads and increased recordkeeping to provide more public access to information about the ads. It is important to monitor how these policy changes affect political dialogue on each platform.To break through the noise, advertisers should keep political brand safety front and center as they build and execute their programmatic campaigns.
  • Inventory – An often-overlooked strategy in political buys is understanding how inventory ebbs and flows through an election cycle. Political advertisers make major ad buys during critical stretches of the campaign, such as right before a primary or post debate. It becomes vital to plan for times when high demand reduces inventory and CPMs skyrocket on social and programmatic display. During these crunch times, viable alternatives such as digital out-of-home and streaming audio offer an excellent counterbalance in the digital media plan. Results are measurable in the same ways as display and social media but with lower CPMs and greater inventory.

The impact digital advertising will have in the 2024 election is undeniable, as audiences using the medium continue to grow beyond traditional media. Follow these tips to ensure a successful digital buy.

[1] © 2023 StackAdapt Inc.