Campaigns with an infusion of late money face a trade off: try to target specific groups of voters who likely have been getting hammered already with political ads or broaden your reach and risk wasting some precious ad budget reaching voters who won’t vote or won’t vote for your candidate.
If that wasn’t a hard enough challenge, they’ll also have to solve the ad reach vs. frequency riddle. Run too many ads hitting too few voters, run a few ads hitting too large a target universe or find the sweet spot somewhere between.
“The rule of thumb is that after about a dozen exposures to a political message, its efficacy flattens. After roughly 25 exposures, results drop drastically,” said Matthew Hedberg, a VP for politics at Semcasting, a provider of audience data.
Hedberg suggested that political marketers should use frequency capping and spread buys out across platforms to avoid the same voters seeing the same ads. “Multi-platform voter outreach also enables campaigns to improve reach and contain costs,” he said.
The problem, according to Jesse Contario, a political ad sales director at programmatic vendor MiQ, is that even though many campaigns are spreading their buys out, they’re still buying directly with the platforms, which makes it harder to cap the impressions a single voter will see if they’re subscribing to multiple streaming publishers.
He pointed to New Hampshire, which has a competitive Senate and gubernatorial race, where over the last 30 days a significant majority of OTT impressions (80 percent) are going to a “high-frequency” group of voters.
“A lot of the OTT dollars are being bought direct, and so they’re calling Hulu or Roku directly, which is fine in that it’s all quality inventory. But when you do that, you lose…the ability to control for frequency [at the voter level] because a lot of people have both Roku and Hulu.”
“Even though you’re diversifying the channel and you’re reaching voters on a new channel — you don’t have the ability to control for frequency because a lot of people have both Roku and Hulu.”
The other problem with frequency vs. reach this cycle, he says, is that linear broadcast is still eating up the biggest chunk of ad budgets.
“If you look at the AdImpact projections, they’re still projecting that over 50 percent of all political media dollars will go to broadcast. I think that shows that there’s still a pretty big imbalance of where people are consuming content and where the dollars are being spent,” he said.
Contario’s advice to campaigns: try not to “over engineer things” in the final two weeks. “You probably need to broaden things a little bit to get your message out and stay top of mind,” he said.
DSPolitical’s MaryEllen Veliz offered similar advice during a recent webinar on late advertising strategy. In fact, she suggested targeting less reliable voters.
“Folks with lower turnout scores, tend to be a little bit more persuadable,” she said. “If you find yourself with extra budget, consider expanding your minimum threshold for voter turnout.”