OTT 2020: Where Impressions Meet Impact

It’s no secret that local TV plays an essential part in election cycles. During the final weeks of the 2016 election cycle, political advertising took 43% of the available slots on local news in key battleground markets. And this coming cycle won’t be much different, with ad spend for the 2020 election cycle expected to hit $6 billion. But there is one new opportunity that candidates must prepare for and capitalize on this year if they want to truly optimize their ad spend: OTT.

OTT enables candidates to target specific viewers (or potential voters) in a more granular, community-based way than traditional linear TV, while providing more detailed measurement metrics and outcomes from ad campaigns. And with more than 5 million OTT impressions on any given day across FASTS, AVOD, SVOD and vMVPD platforms, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with people in a meaningful way. But it all starts with campaign teams changing their mindset to start thinking about TV - but with all the benefits of traditional digital channels.

The Best of TV + The Best of Digital

Political candidates have a long history of spending big on TV, starting back in 1952 with the “Eisenhower Answers America!” campaign, and it only grew from there. Of course, campaigns also have a track record of spending on digital channels like social media, pioneered by Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008. The Obama campaign cracked the door, but since then the floodgates have opened. The influence of digital advertising is clear - and powerful.

TV creates meaningful impact on its viewers. But perhaps most importantly, it’s a trusted medium. Historically used simply as a branding tool, traditional linear can’t deliver the performance metrics or targeting capabilities of digital channels. But the advent of ad-supported streaming services - or OTT - changed that forever.

OTT provides the best of both the legitimacy of the TV screen and the targeting capabilities of digital. According to Axios, political ad spending on digital video will hit nearly $1.6B in the 2020 cycle. The big question is, how will campaigns deploy that budget across digital channels? And can they make the same impact?

With OTT, campaigns can deploy media spend in a medium that delivers the impact and trustworthiness of TV, with the measurement and metrics of digital. Plus with ever-growing inventory, campaigns don’t need to worry about chargebacks after election day. Missed that primetime slot? Don’t worry. With OTT, you are guaranteed to reach targeted potential voters 24 hours a day.

So what do campaigns need to understand to leverage it effectively? Here’s the basics:

  1. Targeting allows candidates to connect with certain audiences based on geography, demographics, and a host of other behavioral factors. Campaigns can leverage research and first-party data or create look-a-like audiences with second- and third-party data to precisely expand their reach.
  2. Sequential messaging allows for strategic storytelling on an individualized basis, designed to drive potential voters to the polls and sway opinion. By leveraging targeting and segmentation data and using that to inform messaging and creative, campaigns can build meaningful connections with individuals over time.
  3. Frequency capping ensures that viewers aren’t over- or underexposed to ads. For example, preventing the same spot being served to the same person 10 times a day.

The Key to Success: Local

Most importantly, all these features embedded into the OTT advertising system can be leveraged in micro environments on a macro scale. Candidates and special interest groups are already creating ad campaigns specifically tailored for local communities based on the messages and issues that resonate in each market. By leveraging this new technology they can expand their reach and impact more people.

One of the simplest ways to do this is with OTT reach extension. Campaigns can piggy-back on their local broadcast buys and reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers in local areas.

Every dollar and every minute count in a political campaign. The precision targeting capabilities of digital paired with the luster of the TV screen have already proven to be effective, with 72% of viewers recalling ads on OTT. TV has always played an integral role in political advertising, but OTT is opening up a whole new world of possibilities where every impression can truly make an impact.