CTV Advertising Factors for 2024 Campaigns

By Jaime Vasil, group VP of candidates and causes, Basis Technologies

For political advertisers, the path to connecting with voters is clear – connected TV is key as voters have migrated and are engaged. The share of political spend on CTV/OTT is significant and is expected to grow.

There is $10 billion projected to be spent on advertising in the 2024 election – an all-time record. Ad spend on broadcast TV is projected to be $5 billion (surpassing$4.5b in 2020), and connected TV/streaming will likely top out at 1.8 billion (up from $1B in 2022). CTV continues to reach larger audiences – and with that, active voters. According to a recent study by LG Ads, 65% of likely voters prefer streaming TV over linear TV.

Political advertisers need tools and partners to access high quality CTV inventory at scale. Here’s how this is accomplished, and the challenges that come with it.

Finding Scale without Cookies

As the industry adjusts to an advertising ecosystem without third-party cookies, one challenge political advertisers face is the utilization of first-party data in new ways. CTV can offer an effective solution, as the hyper-personalized ads in the CTV ecosystem run on first-party data identifiers (device IDs or advertising IDs), to reach consumers.

Additionally, first party data collected through donations, surveys and other interactions with voters is powerful. These datasets, when merged, can allow political marketers to hyper-target voters on CTV and through programmatic channels. Location-based device data can also help advertisers identify audiences within a certain voting district, while other key attributes like political affiliation, age and gender demographics, can help to tailor creatives to the voter’s interests and lead them to the polls.

With the upcoming demise of cookies, campaigns are looking for ways to get ahead of an already shrinking scale. Savvy marketers are utilizing privacy-friendly solutions to minimize the impact of third-party cookie loss, including cookieless tracking, first-party data, contextual targeting, anonymized data sources, premium inventory, and audience profiling.

The cookieless future is here and political advertisers should be utilizing appropriate tactics now.

Inventory Housekeeping

As with the rest of the advertising industry, there’s a hyper-focus on quality vs. scale regarding CTV inventory. While political marketers might have access to what seems like an abundance of inventory from a variety of sources, they should continue focusing on quality.

It’s important to create a mix of quality and scale to reach voters, while maximizing value vs. volume. Work with buying partners that offer transparency and can remove low quality inventory like MFAs (made for advertising sites) automatically or rapidly. Evaluate the role of open real-time bidding (RTB) versus guaranteed inventory and efficiency, to determine what works best for your campaign. Go beyond the open marketplace by utilizing programmatic guaranteed and private marketplace deals to ensure quality and deliver premium inventory, without losing the automation benefits. Marketers can stay on budget by applying bid shading to avoid overspending. Furthermore, for sophisticated analysts, investigate and understand log level data to better evaluate what is being bought and its effectiveness.

Tracking and Measurement

The ad industry in general is still struggling with how to most accurately measure CTV incremental reach and frequency as a companion to linear tv schedules. CTV is not measured the same way as linear television is, meaning measurement and attribution is proving to be a persistent challenge for those looking to leverage CTV to its full potential. As such, there continues to be growing fragmentation and lack of standardization in digital. Content providers and platforms are gathering more data about audiences and ad delivery, but there isn’t a single source to accurately/perfectly measure across channels.

While marketers can provide deeper and richer insights into audience behavior and preferences than linear TV, fragmentation and a lack of standardization make it harder to measure data-driven campaigns that maximize impact. Campaigns and their ad tech partners are actively working on improving measurement solutions. For agencies, it’s important to have the ability to buy OTT/CTV inventory multiple ways (direct, programmatic guaranteed, private marketplace, open exchange) for scale, and also to conduct this in a centralized fashion to holistically control and monitor campaigns. Best practices also include utilizing a trusted third-party measurement source and leaning in on trusted first party automatic content recognition (ACR) data from owned and operated (O&O) partners.

Looking Ahead

For the 2024 election, there is already an increased reliance on CTV, as political advertisers look to reach voters in key districts and states who are more heavily relying on streaming content.

Political campaigns can capitalize on the increase in inventory availability of CTV to best utilize campaign budgets, beat the competition and drive voters to polls on election day.