Here we are in 2020, my friends. Caucus is a bad word. The Space Force is a real thing, and fake meat is in your 401(k).
In this environment, it's easy to get sucked in by the promise of political tech. But let me tell you, despite what's being promised by newcomers and existing vendors alike, much of it will never happen. Now that you've digested columns about what to expect this year, here's your reality check.
Non-addressable media will never win back market share from addressable media.
Even though the exact numbers in the Borrell report are questionable, the trend toward addressable media is clear. In 2012, 10 percent of political media spending was household addressable (digital, direct mail, and telemarketing). By the next presidential year, addressable media blew past 21 percent of spend.
The 2020 cycle will be 50 percent addressable media. Broadcast television and radio market share are getting crushed and that money is never coming back. By early next decade, broadcast for political and public affairs ends with a whimper, not a bang.
Addressable television at scale has not really arrived.
Here's what isn’t happening today: every television in America is not running personalized ads nonstop. Large players often obfuscate addressability by purposefully confusing it with linear optimization, which is more efficient than gut instinct.
But it's still nowhere near as good as true addressable television, which relies on satellite, IP addressable set-top boxes, or CTV logins. The challenge with these tactics is that they have either high reach or large amounts of addressable inventory, but rarely both.
The political cookie will survive 2020, and maybe even 2022. But diversification is vital.
I wrote two years ago that we're already past "peak cookie,” but that doesn't mean cookies will disappear overnight. While Google is out of the political cookie business, other Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) are picking up the slack and still complying with state and federal law. We’ll be cookie targeting this year and well into the next midterm cycle, along with ISP-authenticated IP targeting, location targeting, and using an all-in approach to reach the right audience.
Overhaul of federal campaign disclosure laws won't happen in an election year.
Regulating 2020 with 1990-era laws just doesn't work. That's abundantly clear. But don't expect anything from the FEC or Congress this year. Any regulations or limitations you see in the political digital state will come from states and private actors. That's suboptimal unless you're a lawyer.
Cross channel attribution needs to happen but won't, except for the largest projects.
The challenge with cross-channel attribution, except in certain circumstances with closed-loop reporting, is that different channels (also known as competitors) don't like sharing credit for victories. It'll be a long time before vendors get this right for smaller commercial projects or really anything in the political and public affairs space.
Facebook political ads won't go away.
We know this now after they let us dangle in the wind for months following Google and Twitter's political ad moves. By their own admission, the business model for low-dollar political advertising on Facebook is poor. But the company has a dilemma: exit the political ad business and get accused of torpedoing democracy, or remain and get accused of subverting it while having their costs go up.
Either way, they haven't determined the right way to say, "No thanks." Instead we will spend the year talking about free expression, which isn't really a thing on private property, like Facebook.
Location targeting won't explode.
We all love privacy-compliant location data for public affairs projects or specific electioneering use cases like GOTV, but this isn't a replacement for an old fashioned voter file. While everyone enjoys a good geofence project, location data doesn't scale well and will never gain large market share.
Looking at 2020, trendlines are our friend. Read them or risk writing a crappy business plan for your political and public affairs organization. This is the year that we fix a lot of the things wrong with the political digital ecosystem and create some accountability where it's been lacking. That said, the political technical revolution doesn't happen with a marching band down K Street. It's incremental, messy, and bound to overpromise.
Jordan Lieberman is Vice President & General Manager, Political & Public Affairs at a4 Media.