Political Advertising 1
December 01, 20228 min read

Advertising on Streaming for the Midterms: An AMA With Joe Marino

It’s midterm election time, which means that the advertising industry is once again buzzing about political dollars flowing in. And this year’s spending is set to hit a record $9 billion, with roughly 44% coming to CTV.

But with CTV advertising still a relatively new marketing channel, especially for political advertisers, we wanted to really explore the topic. So, we sat down with Joe Marino, Head of Client Success Organization and Managing Partner at MadHive, for an AMA. 

Here’s what we found out — the interview is organized into sections for easy navigation: 

Macro Overview

What are the regulations and requirements for a “political” ad on TV?

The FEC requires all TV commercials from a campaign to have an ‘I am [CANDIDATE NAME] and I approve this message’ tag at the end.

Do you see advertising as playing a role in influencing or manipulating public opinion? 

Advertising definitely plays a role in influencing public opinion, but letting candidates get their messages out there is essential to democracy. And streaming TV provides a platform for candidates to promote their messages in a premium environment, and potential voters to make educated decisions based on what they see and hear. 

MadHive is a neutral advertising technology platform, and we simply connect candidates and consumers, creating a more comprehensive election experience. Voters are able to learn more about the candidates on their ballot and the issues most important to them, ultimately leading to more informed decision-making. While advertising strategy and messaging is solely decided upon by each individual candidate, we believe the ability for candidates and voters to engage is crucial to the election process.  

What political advertising regulations exist for CTV? Do they vary by region/market? If so, how do you ensure you’re adhering to them? 

As CTV is still a relatively new channel, it doesn’t have strict regulations (like social platforms) when it comes to political advertising. But advertisers still need to consider privacy regulations, especially in states such as Colorado, Utah, Virginia, and of course, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

An example of rights under the state regulations like CCPA includes the right to ask businesses to disclose what personal information they have about you and what they do with that information, to delete your personal information and not to sell your personal information. People also have the right to be notified, before or at the point businesses collect your personal information, of the types of personal information they are collecting and what they may do with that information. 

Do you accept ads from any source - whether from candidates themselves or from groups like super PACs? 

MadHive has no restrictions in this regard.

What types of attribution metrics can a political advertiser measure to gauge campaign success?

We map both top-of-funnel metrics like brand or candidate awareness and perception, and bottom-of-funnel metrics like website visits, email signups, donations, and foot traffic to voting locations.

How did Madhive run campaigns in previous elections? What, if anything, would you be doing differently in the upcoming election cycle? 

In past years, MadHive has provided political advertisers with the infrastructure to support their CTV efforts, from ad serving to optimization and attribution. This gave candidates the ability to reach local voters across inventory sources from broadcast partners and affiliates. This year, we are also partnering with Katz to create the largest local CTV marketplace for political advertising, including inventory from MadHive’s local broadcast clients and more than 1,300 publishers and exclusive marketplaces from the Katz Digital Video portfolio. Katz will also provide managed services to execute and optimize campaigns across inventory sources enabling brands to custom target consumers at scale by platform and geography. 

Many media companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter have placed restrictions on their own platforms. Are there any restrictions on MadHive’s platform?

TV is a more prestigious platform that features premium content. Unlike social platforms where anyone can post, TV channels and content are created by established, reputable organizations. This eliminates the fake news and ads from fake organizations and ensures it’s real candidates connecting and communicating with real people in a premium environment.

Why should a candidate advertise on CTV over any other platform?

One of the obvious benefits of streaming is that it's a digital version of traditional linear media — same content, same screen size, but with the ability to apply the benefits of programmatic ad buying. In simple terms, this means advertisers can do more than just target the “standard  adults 25 to 54” they are accustomed to on linear, and leverage expanded segments including behavior, interests, and geography. And for political advertisers, when it comes to geography, CTV presents them the opportunity to go beyond just zip codes and identify and target potential voters by congressional district. 


Can you target by political affiliation? If so, how do you know that information?

Yes, this information is collected from neutral data sources. For example, MadHive is data-agnostic, meaning we allow our clients to bring their own data or use one of our existing political data partners. We also have an ecosystem of best-in-class data partners including TargetSmart, L2, and many more. 

Can you target specific issues (pro-choice/pro-life, etc.)? 

If you have a specific data segment reflective of the issue pool you wish to target, and that segment is in IP format, then yes.

How granular does your political targeting get?

Our neutral political offering will provide access to reporting via heat maps and tables across 400+ congressional districts within all 210 DMAs. We can also look for Democratic-leaning swing voters, and we can even target Congressional districts from a geo perspective rather than from a zip code perspective. 

In a traditional ad campaign, brands may want to frequency cap their ads so consumers don’t get annoyed. In a political campaign, advertisers may want to run their ads repeatedly to drum up passion and excitement. Are there any guidelines around frequency capping specific to political? 

There is no restriction. We allow a maximum frequency cap of 20 ads per day to a single household, which for all intents and purposes, will not restrict delivery by frequency. 

Creative & Messaging

Are you able to target creatives to specific households? 

We’re able to pull from both external and internal marketing performance to target and segment households to serve up the most relevant messaging. For example, we can retarget audience segments based on users who’ve seen a Madhive creative previously, or target based on external data.

Do you evaluate creative? Could a false or misleading ad run? What safeguards do you have in place? 

If creative gets flagged by a publisher or SSP, we will stop delivery of that placement. Our platform is agnostic and does not test for tone or semantics in a message. We do not dictate what consumers should or should not see. 

What role does inventory play in how ads are run? For example, are you able to keep certain ads from running in certain places (kids content, etc.)?

All of MadHive’s delivery includes whitelisted publisher targeting, meaning we will only deliver ads to specified groups of publishers. 

How many versions of an ad can be run at once? (For example, one ad can be sent to a target segment, a slightly different ad with a customized story is sent to another segment, etc.)

Political advertisers can run unlimited different versions of creative in order to tell the most meaningful and applicable story for each potential voter. 

Data & Privacy

What is off-limits when it comes to data/privacy?

We do not use any PII in our political targeting. 

How do you ensure personal information (as it relates to one’s political affiliation, beliefs, etc.) is anonymized?

To ensure consumer privacy, Madhive leverages a cleanroom to remove any and all ​​Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This means removing any information that can be used to distinguish one person from another. Common types of PII are name, social security number, passport number, etc…, which can be used to deanonymize previously anonymous data. 

Do you work with third-party data companies? How do you assess the quality of their data?

We work with an ecosystem of best-in-class data partners, including TargetSmart, Data Trust, L2, and many more. Data includes first-party voter profiles and consumer data, and is refreshed as redistricting and other factors take place. Data also includes voter history and polling data for 200 million voters (including 50 million unregistered, voting-age consumers), and is constantly updated at the state level. 

Data Trust, which can only be used for Republican campaigns, offers 2,500 data points from 300 million consumers. Target Smart data can only be used for Democratic, Progressive, or Non-Partisan campaigns. 

What types of data attributes are used to build a targetable audience profile (e.g. demographics, behaviors, interests, location, etc.)? Are there any limits on the number of attributes that are used? 

Madhive’s TV-first infrastructure provides political advertisers with tools for targeting against a variety of parameters including geography, demographics, voter profiles (swing voters, early voters, party affiliation, etc.), behaviors (social media use, online shopping, etc.), and interests (fiscal ideology, environmental protections, etc.).