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Magnite Midterms 2022: Why CTV Is Crucial for Political Advertisers

Magnite Team

July 14, 2022 | 5 min read

Political advertising has never been more paramount as Americans prepare to head to the polls for the November midterm elections. 

According to AdImpact, political advertising revenue is estimated to be $8.9 billion in 2022, putting it on par with the 2020 presidential election, which came in at $9 billion — the biggest spend for an election ever. 

CTV has emerged as an exciting, scaled advertising avenue to engage audiences with candidates and their political messages. In fact, more U.S. households have a CTV device instead of a cable box. In 2021, 44% of U.S. households were cordless, 38% had CTV and linear, and 18% were linear only, per eMarketer. 

Magnite welcomed industry leaders and peers to discuss the opportunity of CTV political advertising in a presentation by Chauncey Southworth, VP of customer strategy at Cross Screen Media, and in a fireside chat led by Dan Fairclough, Magnite’s head of specialized demand, featuring Dave Clark, digital director of political & advocacy, The E.W. Scripps Company, and Erik Brydges, head of political, Xandr.

Here are four takeaways for advertisers to keep engaged with voters from now until Election Day.

Media consumption and ad share spend are disconnected.

People are watching video more than ever as new streaming platforms consistently launch and content libraries grow. According to Nielsen, the streaming share of total TV time increased 71% during the pandemic. Digital viewing (CTV and OTT) accounts for 32% of TV viewership compared to 27% of linear broadcast. CTV is now on target to overtake cable in ad spend for 2022.

Although eyeballs are tuned into CTV, media consumption and share of ad spend aren’t aligned. Political advertising for CTV/OTT is only 20%, while broadcast surpasses at 62%. 

According to Cross Screen Media, there are fewer ads on CTV (four to five minutes) compared to linear, which has an estimated 16 minutes of ads.

Advertisers should understand how their audience is consuming content because it’s important to monitor how you allocate video ad budgets. Don’t let a digital buyer pick your video allocation unless they can explain the TV part of the buy. Conversely, don’t let a TV buyer pick your video allocation unless they can explain the digital part of the buy. 

“If you have groups in there just to take the next available dollar and not to look out for what is going to have an impactful view to your target audience, you’re not going to be running as efficient a campaign as possible,” said Southworth.”You’re not going to be ready for future elections as these allocations continue to change dramatically.”

CTV reaches everyone — not just a young demographic.

CTV offers audiences a curated viewing experience that attracts viewers of all ages. In 2020, Gen Z CTV viewers accounted for 45.7 million; 56.5 million for millennials; 48.5 million for Gen X; and 32.8 million for baby boomers, per eMarketer. 

Streaming platforms often offer a non-skippable ad environment making them an ideal place to spread an advertising message.

Magnite’s platform offers the ability to work with partners focused on data-driven segmentation. Advertisers can reach voters based on geographic location (national, state, county/district), interest type, audience profile, and party affiliation. 

Additionally, Scripps launched its Political CTV Consortium (powered by Magnite), making CTV inventory available to agencies and programmatic buyers. The consortium allows agencies to quickly reach voters of all ages before they head to the ballot line. 

A cross-screen approach is the most effective strategy for swing voters.

Cross Screen Media dived into a case study with its planning software that showed local broadcast’s maximum reach was 94% — but actual reach only hit 60%. Local cable’s max reach was 52%, with actual reach at 45%. However, CTV’s max reach was 29%, surpassing that goal with 30% in actual reach. In comparison, mobile/desktop and social video’s max was 58% each, with actual reach coming in at 60% for both categories. 

Another critical factor is recognizing how to plan based on the market you are trying to reach. 

For instance, in the case study, Milwaukee’s eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) is $38, while Phoenix (Prescott) skyrockets to $118. 

As fragmentation increases, it also allows for leveraging other channels (high-quality display, native, programmatic audio, etc.). It’s essential to have an omnichannel approach to your buying and planning to drive incremental impact and efficiency for your campaign.

Creative approval is more streamlined. 

The creative approval process can seem daunting, especially in a political climate with fluctuating state-by-state regulations. For creatives running through Xandr’s platform, bulk uploading is enabled across formats simultaneously and indexed against publisher-specific requirements. So, an advertiser will know on upload whether or not that creative is even eligible to advertise on a streaming platform. In addition, political buyers need creative approval in a timely manner and can request priority audits for more urgent campaigns to get them up and running as soon as 2 hours.

Xandr also has a political-specific creative review workflow for publishers, making it easy for them to manually review and approve political creatives without adding additional resistance.  

Magnite prides itself on building trust with publishers so that we are the last line of defense on approvals, helping to ensure nothing undesirable or unexpected falls through the cracks and without lengthy approval wait times. 

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