Choose OOH This Political Season

By Craig Benner, CEO and founder of Accretive

Now that the parties have selected their Presidential candidates, those candidates, along with candidates in hotly contested congressional and senatorial races, have started to prioritize swing states with a heavy emphasis on independent and undecided voters in key voting districts. The 2024 election cycle is largely characterized as a combination of entrenched loyalists with their minds already made up mixed up with a broad base of apathetic voters, leading party leadership to agree that the outcome of most elections will come down to harder-to-reach independents and non-voters in key states and counties.

These harder-to-reach voters, the presumptive key to the cycle, are far less likely to consume traditional cable news and have a higher propensity to ignore digital advertising due to the proliferation of misinformation and the frustration inherent with an ad which interrupts their listening, viewing and reading experiences.

So where can campaigns, super PACs and issue-focused organizations looking to win elections advertise effectively? The answer is digital out-of-home (DOOH) and here’s why:

Election ads are all about location and messaging

Many candidates and campaigns waste money on large media buys through traditional TV and digital formats which are often ignored and don’t target the specific voter they are looking to reach. Targeted DOOH allows campaigns to reach voters where they eat, live and work with hyper-focused geographic targeting and messaging. This allows campaigns to curate messages to the places in which they are consumed while highlighting issues most important and specific to the region and venue. For example, reaching voters on the rise in gas prices while they pump gas; reaching a family dining out at their local family restaurant with local ballot issues; and billboards located along their commute to and from work.

Critically, these methods create memorable impressions- especially digital billboards which deliver a 52% higher recall rate than static boards, according to Nielsen.

Furthermore, voter trust of messages viewed on the DOOH channel are significantly higher than digital and TV.  A recent study from the OAAA found that more than half of likely voters exposed to an out-of-home political ad in the past year (56%) trust political information in the ad to be truthful and accurate. Because it’s trusted, it’s also more effective: that same OAAA study found more than three out of seven likely voters agree that out-of-home political ads help inform them about political candidates (45%) and policy issues (44%). Additionally, a quarter of likely voters say these political ads remind them of the need and value of voting (26%) and increase their awareness of issues (25%).

Why is this so effective? Put simply, the experience is better. Consumers are used to dealing with ad fatigue from TV ads that run without a frequency cap while getting their program disrupted. Many voters have abandoned traditional political news mediums and consume far less political content than in prior years – this is especially true for undecided, independent and first time voters. In comparison, DOOH is native and not invasive to consumers. It’s a real ad, giving helpful information in the real world without disrupting an experience.

The data makes it clear that young voters, independents and non-voters are more likely to remember, engage, and find value with targeted political advertising that reaches them while they are pumping gas, eating food, commuting or shopping in the physical world.

The price is right

Advertising isn’t cheap but this is especially true during an election year. We can expect increased advertising efforts in key locations such as battleground states, driving up CPMs for broadcast and cable TV ad inventory. While this surge in demand leads to pricing hikes on these increasingly ineffective mediums, political advertisers are better off targeting the DOOH inventory based on their respective internal polling data, allowing them to reach the voters they want to contact at a fraction of the price. From a media planning perspective, it is the most effective way to make a lasting impact on mass audiences with high frequency at a significantly lower cost.

Furthermore, with DOOH advertising, candidates and campaigns are able to adjust their spending in real time on specific counties, districts, zips, et al where they have fallen behind or surged ahead without wasting money on overly broad campaigns that spend unnecessarily. No more wasting dollars on reaching voters that are over a state or district line!

DOOH is finally measurable

In addition to DOOH being effective and cheaper, the ROI can now be proven. DOOH advertising has traditionally suffered with measurement that has not been up to par with the rest of digital advertising, restraining advertisers from investing in the channel. But that’s changing. As DOOH becomes increasingly digital and technology is evolving to prove its value, political advertisers can now understand the impact of their DOOH investments in near-real time.

Political ad investment in out-of-home is expected to break records this year. And that makes sense because it is so effective at reaching, informing, and influencing voters. With today’s voter spending more than 70% of their time away from home and increasingly blocking ads online, political marketers simply cannot afford to skip out on DOOH this election season.