Reaching Voters: How to Make an Impact with Your Political Ads

With mere months left before the presidential election season, making a meaningful impact is more crucial than ever. For marketers, it's vital to ensure that their political advertising stands out from the crowd and engages the right audience. So, how can you make a lasting impression and engage voters with your campaign messaging?

In this blog post, we will outline how to maximize impact with voters: we'll cover new research on American receptivity towards political resources, outline top targeting strategies and highlight proven ad units.

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Political Advertising Spend is at a Record High

According to Statista, political advertising spending in the United States is projected to grow to 10.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2024, up from 9 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

Alt Text: Illustration of Political Advertising Spend for Election Campaigns

So why has ad spending increased so much? There are three main factors that account for this growth -the much greater array of platforms on which campaigns can advertise, a huge increase in spending on so-called down-ballot races and the simple fact that campaigns have far more money to spend than ever before.

Broadcast television will still receive the largest share of the money in 2024, AdImpact projects ‚ÄĒ about half the total. Advertising on Spanish-language television also likely will grow, largely because of highly contested races in states with large Latino populations, including Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Plus, the rapid growth in Connected TV, that is, ads delivered through a streaming service to smart TVs or connected devices like Amazon Fire stick or Roku, will account for a 1.3 billion U.S. dollars ad budget in the current campaign cycle.

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New Research on the Political Ads Landscape

GumGum partnered up with The Harris Poll to conduct a survey aimed at understanding American receptivity towards political advertising in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The survey included responses from a diverse cross-section of Americans and explored various aspects of digital political advertising. The findings uncovered important insights for political advertisers in understanding how to reach potential voters across generations, races, and regions.

On the whole, the research highlighted that to truly capture the mindset of the electorate, advertisers must align their messaging with relevant content and find new, immersive ways to make their ads feel more authentic and relatable, especially amongst younger voters.

In the next section, we'll go deeper into this research and outline just how to adapt your marketing strategies to capture voter attention.

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Top Strategies to Reach Your Voters

Here are some ways you can drive performance with your political advertising:

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Tip #1: Place Your Ad Messaging within Relevant Content

Placing ad messaging within contextually-relevant environments is extremely important to engage political audiences. For example, if a person is reading about and interested in content about current events, it would make sense to place a political ad amongst this content. This ad is more likely to inspire action because it is appearing in content that is already important to the person in question.

This concept of aligning political ads within relevant content is well-supported by The Harris Poll research mentioned earlier in this blog post. According to the survey, over half of respondents expressed their willingness to pay more attention to political ads if they were better integrated and more immersive in the content they consume.

Alt Text: Illustration of How Audiences Will Respond to Political Advertising During the Election Campaign

Plus, a substantial 39% of respondents indicated a preference for political ads that aligned with the political or social issues they were currently reading about or watching. This data further underscores the importance of contextual relevance in political advertising.

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Tip #2: Invest in a Strong Broadcast and Cable TV Targeting Strategy

Digital advertising has gained significant prominence for advertisers in recent years, however, contrary to the misleading notion that ‚Äúcable is dead,‚ÄĚ traditional TV continues to hold substantial influence for political campaigns. Cable TV has the ability to reach a large pool of potential voters and helps shape voter perception‚ÄĒmaking it an essential component of any campaign‚Äôs advertising strategy.

Alt Text: Illustration of Americans Preferring Advertising Displays on Cable and Broadcast TV

This too is supported by The Harris Poll research with a noteworthy 46% of Americans expressing their preference for cable TV and broadcast as the primary platform for receiving political ads. Thus, these traditional mediums remain influential in capturing the attention of potential voters.

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Tip #3: Get Your Message Out Early

Getting out early with your campaign messaging is key to reaching voters and driving action. Learnings from the 2020 presidential election show that ad engagement falls sharply as the election date approaches, indicating a need to get out early and test messaging far in advance of key election dates. 

A 4x decline in engagement was noted during the last 8 weeks of the 2020 election, however it was observed that nearly 50% of the political ad spend on Google alone was executed during this same 8 week period, resulting in wasted impressions on voters who had already tuned out messaging or cast their ballots. About 65% of the electorate voted early or by mail - a trend that is expected to continue, therefore cementing the need to shift advertising flights earlier and earlier.

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Tip #4: Don't Underestimate the Power of Connected TV (CTV)

If you want to stay one step ahead of the rapidly shifting narratives of opponents, especially in a national race, media is crucial. CTV and programmatic advertising enable quick turnaround times to swiftly deploy new campaign messages into market, measure impact and optimize engagement in real time.

The CTV environment gives political advertisers the advantage of reaching viewers on the streaming platforms where they prefer to consume their news. Linear TV will always be a high-scale medium, but reaching relevant streaming viewers on their preferred content and news platforms give political advertisers the chance to achieve highly targeted, incremental reach.

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Tip #5: Stay Clear of a One-Size Fits All Approach

Racial demographics also play a significant role in political ad receptivity in any election campaign season. Therefore, it is crucial to adapt your ad messaging to be sensitive to different audience segments and their preferred advertising platforms for your political advertising to be successful.

Alt Text: Illustration of Importance of Multicultural Online Advertising Regardless of Political Party to Reach Voters

According to the survey results, White respondents, at 52%, indicated they are more willing to receive contextually aligned or immersive political ads, while 26% of Hispanic and 26% of Black respondents expressed similar sentiments.

Hispanic respondents demonstrated a strong preference for political ads on social media platforms at 48%, whereas White respondents leaned towards cable TV/broadcast at 47%. Meanwhile, 30% of Black respondents preferred political ads on streaming services, compared to only 15% of White respondents.

With such varying preferences, it's clear that a one-size fits all approach just won't work - Marketers must lean into genuine and authentic multicultural political advertising strategies to appeal to different demographics.

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Inspire Action with GumGum's Political Advertising Solutions

GumGum can help you develop political campaigns that meet your audiences where they are, while keeping up with innovation and experimentation to reach potential voters in meaningful and actionable ways.

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GumGum's Targeting Capabilities:

Geotargeting: Can run by state, zip or congressional district.

Audience Targeting: Can target by any demographic, behavioral or political affiliation.

Contextual Targeting: GumGum's contextual intelligence engine, Verity‚ĄĘ, can align candidates‚Äô¬†messages¬†in¬†content¬†about¬†the¬†issues,¬†causes¬†and¬†topics¬†that¬†voters¬†are¬†researching¬†while making¬†their¬†voting¬†decisions.

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Proven Political Advertising Solutions:

Break Through the Clutter with Our In-Image Unit

Alt Text: GumGum's In-Image Advertising Displays for Online Advertising and Political Advertising

With so many ads bombarding consumers every single day, how can you ensure that your messaging is reaching voters? We can help you cut through the noise and capture voter attention with our new In-Image ad unit.

This high-impact unit is placed within relevant images of the content on a page, where user attention is highest. Now you can capture voter attention as they browse content online and ensure that your message is seen.

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Takeaways

The above research and tips emphasize the dynamic nature of political advertising receptivity in a rapidly evolving digital and technology landscape. The results highlight an opportunity for political campaigns to consider contextual targeting across digital environments and immersive and innovative campaigns. Plus, they also emphasize the need to consider the nuances of voter identity as it relates to age, region, and race when reaching potential voters through digital advertising.

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