How Publishers Can Unlock the Full Revenue Potential of Political Advertising

By Collin Diederich, Senior Director of Political Advertising Solutions at PubMatic

Poised to become one of the fastest-growing sectors in advertising, U.S. political ad spending is expected to reach more than $12 billion in 2024. For publishers, that’s too large of an opportunity to miss.

Maximizing revenue streams requires more than strategic foresight—it demands actionable insights that can be immediately implemented. Let’s look at the best practices that publishers can put into action, today, to ensure they’re unlocking the full revenue potential of this unprecedented political season.

Define Your Ad Policies and Guidelines

Establish clear guidelines on acceptable ad content to maintain brand integrity and preserve your desired user experience. By having a clear stance on what you will allow on your platform, you can work with your demand partners to align with your policies and help prevent, identify, and manage violations. This is critical to ensure you tap into this revenue stream and still have confidence in what your visitors see. For instance, leading news and media platforms have strict policies against running misleading or inflammatory political ads, ensuring clarity, credibility, and reliability.

Leverage Geo-Targeting Capabilities

Make sure you are sending IP addresses and latitude/longitude parameters in your bid requests. This will make your inventory more buyable for political advertisers seeking specific audience segments and geos. Buyers will be setting up campaigns and targeting that will be laser-focused on delivering a message to locally targeted audiences. For instance, a regional news website could provide targeted ad placements that would appeal to political campaigns aiming to reach voters in crucial swing states.

Update Ad Request Parameters

Fine-tune ad request parameters to streamline the ad serving process, optimize inventory monetization, and increase campaign effectiveness. By adjusting parameters in the bid request, you can enable the maximum amount of information (e.g., demographics, interests, browsing behavior) to enhance ad relevance and performance. This can lead to higher CPMs, bid rates, and win rates for publishers, not to mention higher ROI for advertisers. This can significantly boost your revenue potential from political advertisers.

Revisit Blocklists

Revisiting blocklists is an essential strategy for publishers looking to unlock the full revenue potential of political advertising. This will allow publishers to access the maximum amount of demand available and is the fastest and least resource intensive approach to political revenue. Your decision to enable the entire category (or not) will determine if you will have a reactive or proactive approach to policing political ads. If you want to fully realize political demand, contact your demand partners to ensure you are unblocking IAB 11-4 for Politics and IAB-11, which is the parent category Law, Government, and Politics.

If unblocking is not an option, speak with your demand partners to determine what types of tools they have to enable creative approval, allowlist specific advertisers, or facilitate more controlled spend via any other means. By doing this, the users can still hear directly from their candidates, which can help to fuel the democratic process.

Enable Programmatic Demand

To maintain better control over creatives and pricing, many publishers are focused on allowing only political spending via PMPs, 1:1 deals, or IOs. This omits a large percentage of the overall political spend that is expected to flow via the open exchange. Opening political spending to the open exchange can help publishers capture spending from buyers that are looking to scale beyond PMPs.

While buyers will be focused on hyper-targeting for certain campaigns, especially local ones, there are many buyers with campaigns that are looking for scale that can be achieved via open exchange buying. For instance, partnering with demand-side platforms (DSPs) and ad networks enables publishers to access additional ad demand and maximize revenue potential from political advertisers.

The U.S. 2024 election presents a tremendous opportunity for publishers to capitalize on political ad spending, but success requires meticulous planning and execution. By adhering to these best practices and others, publishers can meaningfully fuel the democratic process in a mutually beneficial way.