Political digital advertising is now a mix of overhyped methods and overlooked gems. It’s up to us, savvy readers, to help clients avoid the former and lean into the latter.
But with ad spending expected to hit a record-breaking $10 billion this year, navigating clients through this ad environment is far from easy. With that in mind, let’s dissect the top overrated digital trends of 2024.
1. The OEM and publisher exclusivity illusion.
OEMs and medium-sized platforms love dressing up exclusives as something super special. Truth be told, it’s usually just a tiny slice of your target audience, and 35 million televisions is a lot different than 35 million households.
The inventory is also up for grabs elsewhere anyway. We’ve been snagging political spots on OEMs for ages, even though they swore exclusivity to other platforms. And it’s not just about exclusive or non-exclusive inventory – the data gets also passed around like your grandma’s secret sourdough bread recipe in those behind-the-scenes deals, too.
Remember the bigger picture when navigating these partnerships: you want to cast a wider net and reach voters across the board. Exclusive means nothing when it’s not really exclusive and doesn’t lead to superior performance.
2. The micro-targeting bubble.
The 2004 cycle put micro-targeting on the map. It’s allure and dominance hasn’t really diminished — unlike the appeal of skinny jeans. The promise of hyper-efficient personalized messages and precise reach, like tailoring ads to left-handed, tech-savvy 32-year-old vegetarians in Tribeca, sounds powerful, right?
Dig deeper, and micro-targeting shows cracks especially as cookies disappear. Over-reliance, especially without utilizing multiple overlapping tactics risks inundating voters with the same message until it loses impact. Leverage distinct narrow and broad targeting methods while keeping ad frequencies in check. After all, every vote counts, even non-vegetarian ones.
3. Our current AI-powered obbbsession.
Is AI the ultimate solution? Blindly trusting AI powered algorithms for media planning and optimization can trap campaigns in decision silos. And those AI-generated creatives? They’re causing a stir over deepfakes and other content that may be used to spread misinformation, create false narratives and manipulate public opinion.
Used wisely, AI tools are valuable. But folks, keep it real – use humans, play fair with data, and keep things transparent. The robots are not coming for our jobs, yet.
4. Programmatic guarantee (PG) promises.
Imagine a perfect political advertising world. Uncomplicated plans, easy clients and massive budgets. Add to this paradise, digital platforms with promises of targeted reach against guaranteed impressions on premium inventory — a programmatic guarantee. Jackpot, especially for all my Montana folks, right? Nope.
While programmatic guarantees offer undeniable efficiency and scale, guaranteed impressions often come at a steep price with limited flexibility. Campaigns may find themselves paying inflated rates for low quality inventory or impressions they don’t even want or need.
5. The data clean room mirage.
Data clean rooms are secure environments that allow campaigns to share voter data without revealing individual identities. The benefit? Hyper-targeted ads that reach audiences across walled gardens.
Silver bullet. But wait, friends: Data clean rooms are expensive, complex, and shrouded in secrecy. Not ideal for the dynamic, fast-paced world of campaigns. Critics argue, if not executed flawlessly, clean rooms aren’t even that effective for transparent data sharing. Political campaigns, especially ones with budgets less than seven figures are better off investing in actual voter contact.
Next week I’ll be back with what’s underrated for 2024. Stay tuned.
Kate Holliday is the Vice President of Politics and Public Affairs at Powers Interactive Digital, an SPO-driven digital company.