Digital Media in the 2016 Elections

Programmatic media

We can’t look anywhere these days without hearing about the 2016 Presidential Race. It’s on TV. Friends are talking about it on social media. And we’re starting to notice more ads that seem tailored to us. Candidates have become very savvy about using new media to their advantage, especially as competition for voters heats up.

Candidates are Eating Up Data

2016 will be the first primary where most – if not all candidates – will be using data and programmatic media buying to reach their respective voters. Candidates will be spending a lot of money to reach these specific voters. Online political advertising is projected to top $1 billion, with the remaining $4.4 billion going toward political TV ad spending.

While candidates do still prefer spending money on traditional TV ads, they also appreciate the precise audience targeting that programmatic advertising delivers. Additionally, online advertising may be one of the few ways to reach certain audiences who have cut the cord on cable.

Programmatic for Politics

Political campaign managers have become wise to the power of programmatic. They’ve started using programmatic media tactics to spread awareness of their brand – just like businesses do. Programmatic’s data-driven strategies help campaign managers to directly target possible voters. By strategically placing ads highlighting the political stance of a candidate, or their position on certain issues, campaign managers hope to influence voter political preference.

Specifically, programmatic media allows for:

  • Voter targeting: The ability to target separate groups based on an individual’s unique voter criteria.
  • Voter criteria: Targeting possible voters based on data such as party affiliation, financial status, political ideals, gender, whether an individual is a registered voter, etc.

This information provides campaigns with better insights into who their audience really is and allows them to personalize each ad.

Digital Media Opportunities

Digital media, as a whole, provides new opportunities for campaigns. For example, campaign managers can develop creative messaging and target specific states or regions based on social issues that are key in those areas, i.e. reducing the national debt. Campaigns can use the following targets to filter messages to a specific audience:

  • Republicans
  • Registered voters
  • Live in South Dakota, Montana, Utah and Idaho
  • Middle/Lower Class
  • College Students/Seeking continuing education
  • Age 18-55

Targeted ads will be used to influence voters based on a candidate’s political platform.

The Challenges of Real-Time Media and Advertising

Automated, real-time campaigns take advantage of the advertising industry’s most effective technologies, but they also come with particular pitfalls that must be considered.

In the lead up to the elections, Campaign managers need to pay attention to what ads are running before and after theirs, and on where their ads are placed. Candidates don’t want their ads accidentally associated with segments that focus on controversial topics, i.e. abortion or gun control. A political opponent could take advantage of a poorly placed ad and use it against the challenger.

Campaign efficiency is also another area of concern. As with any other programmatic campaign, political campaigns are susceptible to the key issues of fraud and viewability. Fraud is usually bot traffic and phony Web sites, while viewability concerns misplaced ads never seen by the intended audience. Both waste precious campaign dollars if proper monitoring and controls aren’t in place.

To avoid these missteps, campaign managers will need to understand and embrace the available programmatic and optimization tools and tread with caution in using self-serve programmatic platforms.

3 Key Aspects of Campaigns to Watch

As the campaign season accelerates, here are the key questions to ask:

  • Will campaign managers be able to unify data from multiple sources and apply analytics to obtain the best results?
  • Will campaign managers be able to harness the power of programmatic to deliver the right message to their target voters?
  • How much will the use of programmatic media influence election outcomes?

Regardless of how expertly it is deployed, programmatic will play an unprecedented role in the major uptick in political ads we will see in the coming months before the elections.



image from: wikimedia