With the 2020 presidential election looming and a list of candidates still vying for the Democratic nomination, political advertising is aggressively taking over our living rooms, digital devices and car radios. In fact, Kantar estimates that $6 billion will be spent on political advertising this election season.
Following the success of the digitally-led Obama and Trump campaigns, many political electioneers are leaning heavily on digital and favor social platforms that churn out highly targeted ads.
With the spotlight squarely upon political advertising practices, and prominent platforms, such as Twitter banning political ad content and Google halting the practice of highly targeted political ads on its platform, candidates know there are ethical and technical issues potentially plaguing digital — like brand safety, fake news, ad blocking, viewability and fraudulent bot traffic. Given these worries, investing in out-of-home (OOH) for campaign advertising offers benefits.
While once considered a traditional medium — conjuring visions of sticky paper posters plastered on roadside billboards — OOH has grown up. There are many new options spanning billboards, street furniture, transit, alternative media, cinema and digital place-based screens in bars, doctor’s offices and gyms. It is also important to note the incredibly granular targeting and data-driven purchasing options that are now possible through programmatic.
Let’s look more closely at the opportunity.
Voters don’t trust campaign ads on social
Data tells us that consumers can distrust political ads seen on social platforms. On the flip side, data shows that consumers highly trust OOH as a medium and view messages shared within OOH ads as reliable. So much so that, according to a study by Rapport, brands that dedicate 15% or more of their media budgets to out-of-home experience a 24% increase in brand trust and a 106% increase in perception of brand quality.
Voters don’t like negative political ads
Political campaigns also have a long history of attack ads. Google surveyed primary voters and found that voters generally dislike and distrust the over-the-top negative political ads they see on television. Candidates seeking to rise above painting opponents in a negative light can differentiate themselves in DOOH, especially given most media owners won’t accept attack ads. Making for a much cleaner fight, DOOH is a complement to television and online ads for campaigns, candidate messaging and get-out-the-vote initiatives.
OOH can’t be cord-cut or ad-blocked
Many political campaigns used to rely on cable news advertising to achieve reach and scale as a supplement to traditional broadcasting. But with the declining viewership of cable, campaigns need new strategies for mass reach. On the other hand, while the use of ad blockers are prevalent online and viewability is an issue for campaigners buying ads that appear “below the fold,” billboards, signs and digital screens cannot be skipped, blocked or “x’ed out of.” Electioneers don’t have to worry about unseen ads and wasted advertising dollars.
DOOH can be bought programmatically
The digitization of OOH has led to a resurgence of interest in the channel as the industry embraces technologies to replicate the digital experience (programmatic) to buy digital signage on street corners, highways, bus stops, gyms, bars and more.
As more OOH inventory is digitized and available via biddable auction the channel now enables quick reaction messaging, whether that means adjusting creative messaging to react to the latest news cycle or increasing the number of -ads in key districts. Buying via this channel has become faster, easier and more accessible for political campaign teams.
DOOH offers high-quality audience targeting
Mobile location data has enabled new approaches to audience targeting and measurement, allowing electioneers to infuse rich data assets, such as census and voter data, into their planning in order to improve buying decisions. OOH buyers can now also access granular data about important areas of interest for presidential candidates and locate OOH advertising opportunities that over-index in reaching Independent voters, for example.
In short, OOH is seen as a data-fueled, yet safe option for campaign teams hoping to win their candidate the presidency in 2020.
Leslie Lee is vice president of marketing at Vistar Media, the world’s leading provider of programmatic technology for out-of-home. Prior to Vistar Media, Leslie was director of marketing and communications at ChoiceStream, and senior manager of communications at Turn (which was acquired by Amobee). Leslie has a BA in English from Harvard University.