Plan to Win with Political CTV

Plan to Win with Political CTV
By Jenny Thompson, Product Marketing
April 04, 2024

Securing success in political campaigns hinges on a strong local strategy, making CTV critical for reaching voters more efficiently with fewer wasted impressions.

After serving billions of political impressions over the last few years, our experts at Madhive have some key strategies to ensure that your campaign delivers to the right audiences.

This article will walk you through best practices in planning your CTV campaign and show you some real-life tactics that political advertisers are using to strategize for their candidates.

Best practices when planning your political CTV campaign

In an election year, the impressions you can deliver for your campaign will shift quite a lot. The (real-time) bidding wars will go up and down due to demand, and CTV publishers will place a minimum on political ads that are much higher than normal market rates. Plus, some may only accept conservative ads, while others may only accept liberal ads. And many may block political ads altogether!

These price and availability fluctuations will create a volatile market, which will impact the impressions you can deliver. Anyone planning a political CTV campaign should adhere to a few best practices to navigate these challenges.

Here are our recommendations for planning a CTV campaign that you’ll be able to deliver on.

1. Plan as close to your CTV campaign start date as possible 

While some campaign managers may be tempted to start planning for September, we recommend against putting too much stock into it. With this election year predicted to bring even more popularity to CTV, availability in September will look much different than it does now.

In CTV especially, remain flexible and plan your campaigns as close to the campaign’s start date as possible. We’ve made it easy to plan and activate in just a few clicks to save time.  

2. Filter out publishers that block political ads

Some publishers block political ads, so creating a plan that accounts for this is critical. The Madhive Planner allows you to filter these out so that you can get a more realistic view of availability.

3. Use curated lists to create more accurate plans that can scale

While the first half of the year is already busy with the Primaries, inventory will become even more expensive and constrained as the General Election nears. For example, a Biden super PAC is expected to spend most of its $250 million ad budget after the Democratic National Convention in August. 

For this reason, we have curated Political Publisher Lists that combine private deals  with open market inventory to maximize delivery. These lists have been created because we know these premium publishers accept political ads, their inventory is contextually relevant, no creative approvals are needed, and the inventory is scalable.

4. Target audiences with privacy-compliant political data 

The beauty of CTV is its ability to get hyper targeted, so campaign managers should rely on privacy-compliant political data to zero in on the right audiences.

Party-affiliated data providers like Data Trust and Target Smart use voter history, polling data, and consumer data to access millions of voters across America. Additionally, our Madhive Data Marketplace partners (including L2, Stirista, Experian, and TransUnion) offer high-fidelity political data segments that yield a more accurate reach. These segments are based on sources including state/county voter files, federal elections commissions, and credit bureau data. 

5. Steer clear of excessive targeting

While we are a platform that prides itself on finding “needle in a haystack” audiences, the political season is heavily competitive. We recommend against targeting with constrictive parameters, such as a very small location (for example, less than ten zip codes) paired with political data segments, which naturally have smaller reach. Remember that while we empower advertisers to upload first-party data, segments should contain a sizeable number of contacts to be scalable.

How political advertisers are planning on CTV 

With some predicting that this election cycle will be the costliest in U.S. history, it’s clear that the general election will be epic — and that includes down-ballot and local races, in addition to presidential. 

In our recent research surrounding Super Tuesday, we found that over 75% of Madhive-powered political campaigns focused on congressional candidates, 15% on local candidates, and just 5% on presidential candidates. While those ratios will of course shift as we get closer to Election Day, there are 500+ seats up for grabs which means ad spend will extend beyond just the presidential candidates.

So how can you get in on the game? We analyzed how our clients are using CTV advertising to get some insight. Here are tactics from real advertisers that are planning for success at the national and local levels. 

They’re pairing precise locations with niche audiences

Smart advertisers are creating campaigns that target specific audiences, while maintaining sufficient reach. 

For example, this advertiser wants to target a county, and specifically Democratic voters with children within that county. While they have targeted a specific location and created their own custom audience, they have not created too specific of a plan to be realistic; they have 30+ zip codes with an audience with a pretty high reach. 

They’re using high-quality data segments to get a more realistic view of reach

Social issues like immigration and inflation will be hugely important this election, so finding receptive audiences through first- and third-party data is key. 

Many advertisers using our platform are creating their own custom audiences with Madhive data partners, such as TransUnion, Experian, and Stirista that ensure the highest data fidelity. They’re also uploading first-party data, like campaign donor lists and email lists, to the platform, empowering candidates to reach their supporters across channels. 

Our Data Marketplace segments are directly imported into our system, and we even use some of it to strengthen the data spine of our device graph.

They’re comparing congressional districts to see how much they should plan for each one

Political advertisers love to see which locations have the most availability for their target audiences. Concentration of niche audiences, like swing voters or Independents, can vary across Congressional Districts. In The Madhive Planner, advertisers can easily create side-by-side plans to compare and contrast availability by location, audience, product, and more, so they know where to invest.

In summary, whether you’re planning for the presidential election, or for the next school board in your neighborhood, Madhive has got you covered. With scale across premium publishers across CTV, online video, and display, we have something for every candidate. 

Reach out to us to learn more