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CTV and the 2024 Election: Q&A with Senior Account Executive Mike Muller

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The past few years have shown Connected TV (CTV) to be a powerful channel in digital advertising. In 2023, CTV has become a must-have in any advertiser’s marketing mix. But how does CTV stack up in the political vertical, which has long relied on linear television as a way for candidates to get their messages out to potential voters?

Political ad spending on CTV will hit $1.3 billion in 2023/2024, according to AdImpact (in Digiday), just 13% of the overall political ad spend. 

We sat down with Senior Account Executive Mike Muller to discuss today’s political advertising landscape and the role CTV could play in the 2024 election.

Q: Mike, before we dive in, can you share what’s changed in the political advertising landscape since the last election in 2022?

The biggest thing I’m seeing is that agencies and general consultants are planning much earlier than in past cycles. I think there were some surprises with a major lack of CTV inventory in the final weeks and days leading up to the 2022 election, and now campaigns are thinking ahead to plan for more of the same. 

Stepping back, we’re witnessing a shift in the landscape — the long-discussed merging of TV and digital realms has become a reality. YouTube, for instance, now surpasses traditional TV channels in viewership, and TV shows are accessible on digital platforms. Strategies that transcend specific screens are now essential for reaching diverse audiences.

For political marketers, the focus should be on capturing attention. Not all ad impressions carry the same weight. Optimal results, such as building name recognition and garnering candidate support, stem from impactful placements in trusted publications. Viant’s pre-bid integration with Adelaide positions us well to tap into an emerging trend in the political advertising sphere.

Q: OK, let’s talk Connected TV (CTV). What role do you see the channel playing in the 2024 election?

CTV, which became the de facto tactic of political advertisers beginning in 2020, allows for greater levels of targeting of persuadable voters including demographics, behaviors and issue positions. Campaigns are looking for ways to target persuadable voters where they spend the majority of their time, and outside of YouTube, that is on CTV/OTT. In a post- Dobbs world, there will be more focused attention on state races and issue targeting and with the vast majority of CTV being non-skippable, I anticipate a deluge of issue-centric ads flooding these digital airwaves. 

Agencies are already thinking ahead to next October and the first week of November in crucial swing states, such as Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin and Ohio to secure inventory and prepare for when the market is going to be inundated with political advertising. In 2022, there were a number of instances where CTV CPMs grew astronomically in the days and weeks leading up to the election — with rates nearly doubling in some instances. 

Some agencies prefer to target specific audiences with interesting data and are less focused on where their placements run. Whereas for other agencies, focusing more on premium inventory and run-of-site is more important, as opposed to a niche audience. Viant has the ability to offer both, with our Direct Access and SPO offering, as well as our growing list of data partners in the political space. 

Q: Say I’m an advertiser working for a campaign. What should I look for in an advertising partner to help me achieve my goals?

Credibility and Trust. There are a lot of fly-by-night players who come into the political space every few years and try to make a splash. People in this tight-knit industry tend to rely on people and partners they know and trust and there have been plenty of bad actors over the years. There are also different expectations when it comes to levels of service, turnaround times, weekend and late night campaigns which are the nature of political campaign advertising. Having cycles of experience working in this environment is of the utmost importance.  

Q: What makes Viant’s people-based technology stand out in the market?

Our Household ID is the main differentiator in the marketplace. With our high match rates and the ability to activate any first-party data file within hours are HUGE differentiators. With the majority of dollars being directed toward CTV, our identity graph (which operates independently of cookies) gives Viant a leg up in CTV environments.

Q: What changes do you foresee happening in the political vertical before (and after) the 2024 election, and how can Viant help keep advertisers ahead of the curve?

Time will tell. 

There always seems to be something big and unexpected that happens late in the cycle, whether it was in 2020 when Adobe shut down political advertising in September ahead of the election or in 2022 when Meta introduced a ban on new political ads leading into that year’s election. 

This year, AI seems to be the hot topic, and I anticipate agencies and campaigns will begin to institute AI in their creative to scale in both a cost-savings and time-savings measure. It’s likely this will begin to cause a stir as these ads start to flood the marketplace. I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to increased regulations, expanded publisher approvals or labeling requirements. 

At Viant, we continue to stay vigilant in keeping up on all these trends and as requirements shift, we are committed to staying on top of these trends and requirements  to reduce any friction in the timing of campaign launches. 


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