The fourth quarter of 2023 is upon us, which seems like the right time to consider what next year has in store for us. Here is your preview for the next 12 months of political and public affairs consulting:
1. Integration of AI Tools to Make Us Better at Our Jobs
AI has swiftly become a valuable tool for candidates and causes, but doesn’t replace the creativity and project management skills of most consultants. Consultants are now better equipped to analyze data and draw actionable insights, enabling the creation of highly targeted and personalized outreach.
AI-driven tools are better at predicting voter behavior and optimizing text and visual messaging, but let’s remind ourselves these are tools to make us better at our jobs, not the other way around.
2. Accelerating Supply Path Optimization: Refining Ad Delivery Efficiency
Supply path optimization (SPO) is rapidly gaining momentum within the realm of political advertising. We called it out in late spring that the following months would see a number of other programmatic platforms re-orient towards SPO, and that’s exactly what happened.
In 2024, consultants should anticipate a more sophisticated SPO landscape, characterized by streamlined bidding processes, and increased ad delivery efficiency. By selecting the most direct and cost-effective routes to reach target audiences, campaigns can optimize their budgets and achieve maximum reach and impact and force the Demand Side Platforms (DSP) space to consolidate further.
3. Consolidation Among Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)
The political advertising ecosystem is undergoing a shift with the consolidation of DSPs. This change introduces a recalibration of the relationships between advertisers, publishers, and technology providers, taking some power out of the latter and restoring it to the former.
In 2024, consultants must monitor how these consolidations impact the bidding landscape, data access, and overall pricing dynamics. MediaMath will not be the last DSP to go, and Xandr will not be the last to ban political ads.
4. Margin Erosion Challenges Will Increase for Bigger Companies
Larger companies in the political consulting arena are likely to face challenges related to margin erosion in 2024. Increased competition from smaller, nimble firms, and lower barriers to entry are making it harder for larger firms to dominate.
5. Lower Expense Account Spending
Selling in 2024 is very different from 2019. The expense account is the silent victim of COVID and work from home, and will continue to shrink next year. Social norms are shifting, and the traditional practices of wining and dining to foster relationships are giving way to Zoom and gift baskets.
To thrive in this environment, we’ll all need to find the right away to make relationships stick. As much as I miss lunch at PJ Clarke’s, I can do without the 6 a.m. Acela trip to New York.
6. The Linear TV Death Spiral
The ongoing decline of linear TV viewership continues to be a significant industry trend. In 2024, political consultants must recognize the waning influence of broadcast television and place greater emphasis on addressable platforms.
Online streaming services, social media, and digital advertising are poised to dominate campaign outreach efforts. Consultants should harness these platforms to engage with younger demographics and leverage the targeting capabilities they offer for tailored messaging.
7. Public Affairs Spending
We believe that public affairs spending will remain robust. The biggest question mark is how messy campaign season may be. Insurrection is bad for business. Recession or regulation can’t do the financial damage that a messy election season can create.
8. Retirements Abound
Because of the rapid growth in our business in the early 1980s, the number of retirements is accelerating and newer additions to our vertical are far more diverse than the people they’re replacing. That said, I was called a greybeard for the first time this year. I feel like that could have been postponed a few years if it were not for the four children and new business. Alas, here we are.
Jordan Lieberman is the CEO of Powers Interactive, a programmatic media company.