To target the midterm’s traditionally older electorate, media buyers could be tempted to go big on linear — a tried-and-true strategy that will still see plenty of dollars this year.
But new research suggests that old ways of buying media might not work as effectively this cycle, especially if you consider that turnout of young voters could spike. To wit, back in 2018 turnout of 18- to 29-year-olds rose to 36 percent — a nearly 80-percent surge — from 20 percent in 2014.
Linear is still the way most people watch TV in America. In fact, the average time per day spent with linear TV is 3:17 per day, according to an analysis by MiQ.
But the problem is that that audience, some 75 percent of which is over the age of 50, is contracting just as more and more ad dollars are being spent by political marketers trying to reach them.
This imbalance is throwing off the “frequency curve” and means that in some Senate, gubernatorial and congressional races between 2020-21 70-90 percent of the impressions delivered were only to 40 percent of households. Moreover, campaigns from both major parties are overlapping 63 percent of their linear TV ads with the same audience.
“There’s a certain number of households that are constantly over-saturated,” Melissa Kurstin, MiQ’s managing director Mid-Atlantic & Southeast, told C&E. “If you do spread it out, you’ll more effectively hit the under-saturated households. We want to normalize that frequency curve.”
Normalizing that curve by spreading out your ad dollars is something that a programmatic platform like MiQ would like to help campaigns do.
Still, that isn’t the only reason why the company released this report. Another is that they now have the ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) data from 25 million opted-in households (up from 8 million in 2018) to back up their argument.
“As we’re able to get access to more households … we’ve proven out that this is actually working,” Kurstin said of a cross-screen buying strategy.
The report, which looked at ACR data from 16 million U.S. households and used AdImpact’s ad library, AdMo, found “20 percent or more of voters were not reached by campaigns that relied heavily on linear TV.”
Not only are linear-heavy strategies missing voters, they’re also getting pricey because there’s fewer voters watching programming that way and more ad dollars targeting them.
“Given that framework, the cost to reach a new household can be 10-to-12 [times] higher based on this analysis in the third month of a campaign compared to the first,” MacKenzie Pino, a senior account executive, at MiQ, said during a Zoom briefing on the report May 24. “As campaigns progress towards Election Day, and time passes, reach becomes increasingly expensive because advertisers aren’t reaching new voters. Instead, they’re hitting the same ones over and over again.”
She added: “We posit that linear TV strategies consistently face over- and under-frequency saturation levels.”
In the case of the latter, the report found that broadly there was “a four to-five day lag on average between successive impressions for audiences seeing more than one [campaign] commercial.”
At the same time, MIQ’s analysis found that the average household consumes more than “300 ads on TV alone during those four and five day gaps.”
“There’s evidence,” said Pino, “that cross-platform ad exposure is more effective.”