In the final days before voters go to the polls or mail in their ballots, it’s critical for political marketers to ask an important question while allocating last-second digital advertising dollars: “How can I be 100 percent sure that every dollar is reaching my target voting demographic and making the maximum impact?”
Digital demand for clicks and views during the next few weeks is expected to be at an all-time high, and this demand far surpasses the available human supply. Ironically, these same final weeks leading up to the national election are an important sales forecasting event for sell-side players as they try to generate as much revenue as possible, frequently to justify large investments in the political vertical.
In this tug-of-war between high demand and seemingly unlimited supply, campaigns must handle last-minute media buys with extreme caution.
Media buyers who already have implemented technologies and created a strategy to verify humanity in each impression are in a unique position to reap the precision and benefits that digital targeting offers while protecting themselves against the risks. For others who have waited until the last second to implement such safeguards, while not as powerful, there are still highly effective measures that should be taken.
Before precise targeting of first- or third-party data is even considered, a two-question evaluation needs to take place with your vendors. Campaigns should ask, can you deliver our message to an actual human? Can that human make the impact you desire on the message delivered?
Delivery and targeting numbers that seem too good to be true are highly likely to be based on audiences that don’t actually exist. Don’t forget the simple fact that there are only 324 million residents in the United States. The size of a real human audience shrinks rapidly as you narrow down geo-locations or other targeting attributes.
It’s crucial that you begin fact-checking your media suppliers. Is it verifiably possible to reach the number of unique human viewers suppliers are promising? If it is, how many impressions would you need to serve to the same human to deliver on your contracted agreement?
While human page visits in political content will increase with advertising dollars, the delta will be much larger in favor of advertising dollars. This situation leads to publishers sourcing traffic to ensure they don’t have to turn away last-second buys and give them the opportunity to reach publishers’ sales forecasting goals.
For buyers, it’s been proven that sourced traffic is three times more likely to possess digital ad fraud, according to a study we did in 2015. In other words, this finding means that placements to sourced traffic are three times less likely to make an impact on your campaign.
It’s often not enough to know that a valued publisher is on the last-second site-list. As programmatic allocation continues to grow, political advertisers must place an emphasis on both having a plan for the publisher, and more importantly, defining the buying channel with that specific publisher.
One scenario that can arise is publishers offer all of their organic inventory to those who are making site-direct buys. Still wanting to monetize the increased demand from buyers, sites then purchase traffic for a small portion of the CPM that they then sell to programmatic exchanges, which in turn is supplied to marketers.
Media quality is still a new topic for many, and avoidance of the human verification issue is naïve, wasteful and ultimately could lead to disappointment on Nov. 8. While some advertisers have aggressively taken on this fight early in the cycle and have proactive measures, including technologically to ensure their message has an opportunity, it’s not too late to ask questions and spend with discretion.
Mark Schlosser is a Human at White Ops, which is the leading provider of cyber-security services for the detection and prevention of SIVT @bottybymark.