by. Kathryn Hershey

Another presidential election year is upon us. Advertisers, prepare yourselves for some industry-wide shifts as voters across the country cast their ballots. Here are four digital trends that will impact even non-political advertisers this voting season: increased competition and costs, audience burnout and the influence of AI and misleading media.

More Bids = More Competition

Political digital spending for 2024 is projected to triple what it was just eight years ago, according to forecasts by eMarketer. With political campaigns pouring an anticipated $3.46 billion into digital advertising, brands are already seeing increased competition for ad space across platforms like Facebook, Google Ads, and CTV. The surge in political ad spending leads to limited available inventory for other advertisers, especially in swing states or key districts. Non-political advertisers may find it more challenging to secure prime ad placements due to the saturation of political content. Now more than ever, strategic flighting could be key to obtaining the best placements for your brand. Political competition will hit its peak in Q4 and until then, advertisers will experience this increased demand playing out in real time.

Same Inventory, Higher Cost

As election season ramps up and digital advertising becomes increasingly sought after, expect to see costs rise too. This in turn impacts your campaigns’ overall impressions and CPM (cost per thousand impressions). As the cost of impressions rise and fall, so does the CPM. Normally a higher CPM indicates restrictive campaign targeting, competitive ad formats or high value audience segments. When evaluating campaign performance, keep in mind that external factors like high inventory demand can affect your CPM just as much as campaign content and targeting. Along with your standard optimization process, consider more competitive bids and budgets to accommodate higher delivery costs and maintain impression volume. Fortunately, we can expect to see CPMs decrease after November 5th as political spending comes to an end for the year.

Audience Burnout

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten tired of ads – especially political ads. We’ve all been there. Knowing this, brands will need creative solutions to capture and maintain audience attention amidst political messaging. This plays out in the creative itself, too. Creative teams need to bring their A game to stand out from the crowd for viewers viewing ads more critically. Since audiences might be especially sensitive to ads because of the influx of political messaging, preventing ad fatigue is a must. Make sure you’re targeting relevant and sizeable audiences with enough creatives in rotation to prevent inundating them with repetitive messaging. And wherever possible, consider setting a frequency cap. Following platform best practices is an easy way to reduce creative and audience fatigue.

AI and Misleading Media

With the recent developments in AI sweeping the tech industry, concerns about deep fakes and misleading media are once again top of mind. Many platforms are revisiting and revising their ad policies in accordance with the events of past election cycles. In response to greater scrutiny of political advertising practices, digital advertisers should stay informed on platform policies. For example, Meta now requires disclaimers on ads for political content with content altered or generated using AI (FB Newsroom). As of now this only impacts political content and social issues, but AI is quickly becoming deeply ingrained in tech and popular culture. It may only be a matter of time until more categories are asked to do the same.

All in all, the impending political season brings significant challenges and opportunities for digital advertisers. Advertisers must adapt their strategies to navigate these dynamics successfully and ensure their campaigns stand out amidst the political noise. Consider your current digital advertising approach and how it may be impacted by these four factors. Not sure where to start? We’re here to help!

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