Media Coverage

Ad Age “Ad Buying in a Political Pressure Cooker” - Jed Dederick

June 20, 2016…

Jed Dederick

Ask any ad buyer working in political or cause-based marketing what matters the most during an election cycle, and you’ll often hear things like speed, efficiency or the ability to reach key voters. In an era when ad buying is increasingly automated, programmatic digital advertising is answering that call and introducing new value through real-time insights and measurement.

As always, there are pitfalls to avoid, but for any serious political marketer, a programmatic digital ad-buying strategy is a must-have. Here are a few ways candidates, other political advertisers and the media buyers who work on their behalf are taking advantage of the programmatic tool kit:

What’s faster than great service? Self-service

More and more political agencies and media service companies are partnering with demand-side platforms (DSPs) that offer self-service tools and platforms, giving them immediate access to uploading creative assets, setting campaigns live and pulling real-time performance insights and audience analytics. Replacing traditional media buying methods (phone calls, insertion orders, individual billing relationships) with a single, self-service access point to a world of advertising that aggregates channels and invoices means less time spent doing routine tasks, such as faxing contracts or checking billing reports, and more time spent creating and testing hypotheses and analyzing data.

One-to-one marketing at scale

Perhaps the biggest factor driving the growth of programmatic digital advertising is the ability to communicate with specific individuals at scale, or to audience target. This concept is nothing new: From street canvassers to direct mail, marketers have always looked for ways to deliver messages that resonate with the individuals who matter to them. Programmatic digital advertising has opened up a new world of possibility on this front.

By creating and managing high-value audiences from a central location, such as a data management platform (DMP) connected to a DSP with the ability to buy ads across channels, marketers can now reach those individuals in any internet-connected environment, and manage reach and frequency across channels. Better yet, they can deliver specific messages rather than relying on the same broad creative execution for every person.

For example, candidates can easily create an audience of parents with kids in high school who live in swing voting districts in their DMPs, and then serve them ads about the rising costs of college education using their DSPs. Why is this so important for political advertising? Of the 320 million people in the United States, only a few hundred thousand voters could decide who wins the 2016 presidential election. The candidates need to reach those voters who can decide the election with messaging they care about.

New and innovative guarantees

What’s the CPM for an undecided voter in Virginia browsing political content on the Monday before Super Tuesday? If you bought media for any of the 2016 candidates, chances are you would love to have guaranteed ad placement in front of those undecided individuals on that content, in that state, on that day. Thanks to programmatic digital advertising, the functionality exists through private marketplaces and programmatic guarantees to create these kinds of deals in advance and execute them in an automated way.

Premium content in video, display, native, mobile, TV and audio is following consumer behavior toward internet-connected devices, where audience targeting and addressability are possible. DSPs and supply-side platforms (SSPs) are creating the functionality to support new and innovative deal terms, such as audience or fill rate guarantees.

If it feels too late to set up your guarantees for 2016, don’t worry—we’ll be talking about 2020 in no time. Programmatic digital advertising is bringing next-generation efficiency and targeting to political marketing campaigns. Add to that the ability to generate real-time performance reporting and audience analytics from programmatic ad campaigns, and you begin to see the possibilities opening up for the campaigns and media buyers who dig in.

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