In “Advertising Strategies from Political Experts,” the latest installment of the custom video series presented by Ad Age Studio 30 in partnership with Effectv, media professionals—including Chuck Todd, moderator and host of NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” and Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report—shared their insights into how expanded-reach and data-driven advertising can have the greatest impact on voter turnout.
Audience fragmentation equals more opportunities
While fragmentation poses challenges to media strategists—each household, on average, watches 30 different networks—audiences are watching more video than ever before. The key to circumventing this issue, says Michael Beach, CEO of Cross Screen Media, is to “take your message to where your voters are.” This means a deeper push on all levels. “On cable, you’ve got to buy much further past the top four or five networks,” says Beach. “If you’re in digital, you’re buying a bunch of platforms. If you’re in broadcast, you’re buying more dayparts.”
But it’s not just about expanding reach. Andrea Zapata, VP of data innovation and insights at Effectv, pinpoints data as a game-changer when it comes to reaching voters who are increasingly getting their information from and watching on multiple screens. “Devices are pulling audiences apart,” she says. “When we take a data-driven approach, it’s actually bringing it all back together.”
When targeting voters, experts are of the belief that political video advertising will play a major role in the 2020 elections. “The biggest successes we’ve seen in political campaign media buying over the last couple of cycles,” says Beach, “has been cross-screen media planning and buying really taking a centralized view of all video from cable broadcast advertising, all the way to digital platforms such as connected TV and social video.”
This is likely because the numbers just don’t lie. Catie Birmingham, manager of research, data management and solutions at Effectv, points out that in 2018, “there was a 64 percent win rate during the primary election if you advertised using cable television.” Plus, she says, there was a 34 percent win rate for general election winners who advertised on cable TV, compared with the 11 percent who didn’t.
Expanding reach in 2020
But what about the elusive swing voters, who according to Cook make up about “30 percent of the electorate?" “They tend to skew younger,” Cook points out, “but swing voters also tend to be lower information voters [who are] paying attention less, so you’ve got to be more creative in reaching those people.”
“What I find to be an interesting ad may not be what the consumer [does],” adds Todd. “These days you have to think about advertising the way you think about business: Be disruptive.”
This is where deeper reach and data come into play as well.
Many political advertisers “assume that others consume media the way they do,” says Melissa Sharp, VP of National Media Research, Planning & Placement. “So if they’re watching Fox News or CNN or the Today show, everybody must be.”
But “data is showing that voters live outside of news programming,” Dan Sinagoga, VP, political strategy at Effectv, points out. They’re also “spending the majority of viewership time outside of primetime.” This means that the strategies that worked only a few years ago to reach voters may no longer be relevant. “If you’re not using the data, you’re not using OTT platforms, you’re not using digital to capture every available impression inside of a household,” warns Sinagoga, “you’re simply not going to be able to have the reach that you need against your particular target.”
The implementation of broad-scope and data-driven tactics will be imperative to advertising success in 2020. “We’ve seen that using multi-screen solutions, whether that’s adding VOD or adding streaming opportunities in digital, increases the chance of someone turning up in the voting booth and adds incremental reach,” observes Birmingham.
This will be extremely important as we head into this election year, because “we’re going to have the biggest voter turnout in American history,” predicts Cook. “And that means all kinds of people are going to be voting in higher numbers, and some relatively new people who hadn’t been voters before.”