Political Pulse: Key Races Are Driving CTV Impressions

Political Pulse: Key Races Are Driving CTV Impressions
By Lindsay Sakraida, Content Marketing Lead
June 18, 2024

Welcome back to the Madhive Political Pulse, our content series that focuses on the key CTV insights affecting this year's elections.

We've been tracking impressions for political ad campaigns on our platform, and the data tells an interesting story about the ebbs and flows of the season. Here's how CTV political advertising is shaping up, and what to expect in the coming weeks. 

Impressions see a big jump after a Super Tuesday cool-off

The year began with a steady progression of political ad impressions leading up to Super Tuesday, with a quiet period in April when impressions dropped by 33%. 

The dip was short lived, however; May rebounded and impressions increased by 54% MoM. 

This growth should continue into June, and possibly July, as primary season comes to a close. 

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Primaries create impression spikes, but a curve is coming

Speaking of primaries: When we look at impressions by day, the pattern of advertising around events is clear. 

This spike-and-fall pattern is indicative of the roll out of primaries nationwide. Typically in the days before (or weeks before, depending on the significance of the primary), impressions in the corresponding state increase before dropping shortly before the day itself. 

At this point, only a few primaries remain, which means we'll likely see a more consistent curve leading up to election day. 

That said, milestone dates like the debates, registering to vote, filing for an absentee ballot, or early voting, could all cause small spikes as well.  

CPMs are on the incline 

According to our data, open market CPMs for political ads are also increasing, which is to be expected; the average CPM increased by 37% in May.  

This follows the general trend we saw in 2022, the first election cycle with modern CTV programmatic advertising. While it's hard to compare midterm elections with a presidential season, they provide a good baseline for what the political CPM trajectory might be in the coming months.    

If these general trends repeat, then here's what you should expect through November: 

  • Big jumps in political CPMs in June and July

  • A break in August and September

  • Another jump in October 

  • The highest CPMs of the season the week before Election Day

That said, remember that CPMs will still fluctuate from day to day. We recommend planning a campaign as close to your start date as possible, and considering rate card pricing with a flat CPM during a defined period of time, if you’re concerned about CPM predictability.

Swing states drive regional impressions  

Since the presidential candidates have largely been decided, most of the CTV ad spend appears to be driven by down ballot races, particularly senate seats. This is apparent when looking at the top states for impressions.  

Both Maryland and Pennsylvania are swing states for Senate races, while Arizona's primary in July will determine who will be running for the hotly contested Senate seat that independent Kyrsten Sinema is vacating. 

While the likely Republican and Democratic candidates in Arizona are assumed, ABC News is reporting that both are engaging in a "rebranding campaign" in advance of the election in order to woo voters. No advertising medium is better for brand shifts than TV. 

Looking forward, we expect Arizona to remain strong until the primary, while Nevada, Michigan, and Montana could all surge before their post-May primaries as well. 

Battleground districts rise above

As the saying goes, all politics are local — and that extends to CTV. 

The Madhive platform offers district-level targeting, which means we can see the local, down-ballot races that are getting the greatest investment this season.  

Case in point: In May, Congressional District North Carolina 01 saw the highest number of impressions. This is also an important battleground district, because it's the only one in NC that could swing from a historic democratic lock to a republican flip. 

Up next: We've got our eye on the debates

While the primaries are still in progress, the first presidential debate is set for late June — the earliest it's ever been. We'll keep an eye on how this unique addition to the election season impacts advertising trends, and whether it bumps up the presidential ad spend overall. 

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