Addressable Advertising: A Guide to Political Advertising in 2024 | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Addressable Advertising: A Guide to Political Advertising in 2024

By Mark Failla

When then-presidential candidate Eisenhower broadcast the first political ad spot campaign in 1952, it marked the beginning of television's reign as the go-to advertising medium for reaching key voters en masse. While "I Like Ike" may be catchy, the traditional TV media landscape that helped Eisenhower clinch the White House is now long gone.

More than 70 years later, we've seen political advertisers successfully utilize emerging technologies to adapt to the evolving media landscape and shifting viewership behavior time and time again. From the Clinton campaign's use of the Internet in the '90s to the Obama campaign's use of social media in the '00s, political advertisers have routinely seen success in pivoting their strategies to align with where voters are spending most of their time.

Today, political advertisers find themselves at another critical turning point. We're nearing the 2024 election with a political ad targeting space transformed by audience fragmentation, the impending deprecation of third-party cookies and new technology like generative AI. According to MiQ, advertisers from both sides of the aisle missed between 25 percent and 40 percent of potential voters through their traditional TV buying strategies in 2022.

Navigating uncharted territory requires political advertisers to revamp their go-to strategies to effectively reach today's voters and accommodate their changing viewership habits. One solution has emerged from the pack ahead of 2024: addressable advertising.

Addressable in a Fragmented Landscape

Any political advertiser will tell you that the key to a successful ad campaign is effective audience targeting. But with audiences splintered across screens and services, it's no longer possible to reach the right voters through bulk media buys on cable or broadcast television.

Today's voters are switching back and forth between linear and CTV to watch their favorite shows, consuming digital content on their smartphones, and surfing the web on their desktops — sometimes all at once. And with political ad spending expected to top $11 billion in 2024, advertisers are facing fierce competition and little room for error when it comes to targeting the right voters at the right time.

Enter: addressable advertising, which has quickly emerged as the holy grail for political advertisers in an increasingly fragmented landscape. Using deterministic data and precise geo-targeting, addressable delivers tailored messages to hyper-specific audiences across linear and CTV.

While political advertisers have historically segmented voters by typical demographics like age or party affiliation, this has led to over-buying and inherent waste for campaigns aimed at both the state and household level. Through surgical targeting, addressable ads eliminate inherent waste by reaching exact voter audiences when they're actually watching. Addressable ads can connect candidacy and issue messages with registered voters of both political parties as well as swing voters and independents. These ads also account for frequency capping and personal viewing habits so that advertisers can ensure they're reaching the right voters at the right time.

Preparing for a Data Compliant World

With the phase-out of third-party cookies underway, 2024 may be the first presidential election without them. At the same time, tech giants and social media platforms continue to face backlash about data privacy as more states implement new privacy regulations. This marks a reckoning for political advertisers who must find new ways to prioritize privacy and compliance, while compensating for the missing third-party data they've relied on in the past.

As political advertisers shift toward new strategies, addressability provides a privacy-compliant targeting solution suited for the current environment. Served within authenticated environments, addressable ads use privacy-compliant first-party data to target individual households based on advertiser's voter segments. In a cookieless future, leveraging first-party, privacy-compliant audience data is key for political advertisers to ensure precise targeting and to maximize their reach.

The Road Ahead for Political Advertisers

The current landscape has presented political advertisers with a critical test to tap into new capabilities and look beyond traditional political advertising to meet the moment, and most importantly, meet key voters where they are.

On the road to 2024, addressable advertising is the single best solution available to precisely target voters with first-party data, eliminate impression waste and measure campaign results to optimize future campaigns.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Mark Failla is senior director of political ad sales at D2 Media Sales.