Political Advertising: 5 Trends To Watch in 2024
As 2023 winds down, there’s one major topic that is already heating up the ad industry ahead of next year: the 2024 elections.
Spending on political advertising for the 2024 races is expected to reach a record-breaking $10.2 billion. While $2.7 billion will be spent on the presidential election, another $7.5 will be allocated to down-ballot candidates (those who are running for races below the president, such as for Senate and House seats, and state or local office).
There’s a lot at stake, so what will the political ad playing field look like?
Here are the top five trends we expect to see as candidates across the nation vie for votes.
Trend #1: Streaming TV advertising will be a key channel for political advertisers
In July, viewership on streaming reached a record high, accounting for almost 40% of total TV usage among U.S. adults, while cable and broadcast fell to 29.6% and 20.0%, respectively. This gap is expected to widen as linear viewers continue migrating to streaming platforms.
Political advertisers want to go where consumers are going. In fact, political spending on connected TV (CTV) is expected to surge 33% higher than the 2022 midterms to reach an estimated $1.3 billion. Just as valuable is what CTV enables that linear doesn’t. CTV offers the ability to reach hyper-local audiences at scale with precision and flexibility.
According to Kristin Wnuk, SVP of Sales at Madhive, “Political advertising will be huge for local again next year. Candidates and issue advertisers want to find people in specific geo-regions. During the last cycle, we saw a 1400% increase in impressions in the weeks leading up to the Massachusetts primaries. It’s an exciting time with a lot of money out there.”
Indeed, programmatic buys are attractive to advertisers because they can optimize in real time, spending more of their budget in the immediate weeks leading up to an election.
Based on exclusive data from the Madhive platform, average daily political ad impressions on CTV were up 96% in October 2022 over September of the same year. In fact, more than 50% of all political CTV ad impressions for the year were delivered in the month of October.
Trend #2: Candidates will focus advertising efforts on reaching the undecided voter
With increased polarization between parties, many voters have already made up their minds about who they will vote for. Among those who voted in both the 2020 presidential election and the 2022 midterms, only 6% crossed from one side to the other.
As a result, undecided voters have become a prime audience for candidates because they’re pivotal in deciding close races. For the 2024 election, candidates will spend more of their ad budgets trying to reach this all-important minority who are still on the fence and may be able to be persuaded into a vote.
But how do candidates reach this segment? Data will play a huge role. While there’s no definitive data list of who is undecided, there are common factors and traits that advertisers can target. For example, undecided voters have shown to be looking for more educational opportunities, new movers to a state or area, new parents, or newly married.
And compared to traditional linear TV, CTV offers much more comprehensive data to drive successful political ad campaigns. Through political data partners like DataTrust and TargetSmart, advertisers can target audiences more granularly, by factors like:
Onboarding political private marketplaces (PMPs)
Trend #3: Swing states will be essential for the presidential election
The majority of voters know who they will vote for. Similarly, most states will reliably fall into the red or blue categories. But some states are not as reliable. Some states sit right at the cusp, where they can tilt red or blue.
As a result, presidential campaigns will focus their efforts on this set of familiar swing states, where a voter is most likely to flip a political party at the ballot box. More than 75% of projected spending will be concentrated in seven swing states:
And these swing states prove to be important for every election. Though the 2022 midterms did not include a presidential race, many states held key elections that tipped the balance of power between red and blue majorities. Traditional swing states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona garnered some of the most impressions in the Madhive platform.
Trend #4: Down-ballot races will dominate political advertising spend
While the presidential campaign often sees the lion’s share of public attention, the biggest growth in political campaign advertising will be on down-ballot races — such as Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. In fact, 75% of ad dollars is expected to be spent on down-ballot contests this election cycle compared to 25% for the presidential race.
Madhive data shows that gubernatorial races saw a whopping 36% of ad spend during the 2022 midterm elections, followed by congressional seats (24%) and state legislature (18%).
There are 12 gubernatorial races in 2024 — with North Carolina and New Hampshire expected to be the most competitive. Expect to see significant CTV advertising investments in these geographies.
With the increased spending on down-ballot races, hyper-local targeting is essential for political advertisers. CTV enables advertisers to target granularly at the hyper-local level — including by congressional districts or even the zip-code level.
“That’s the great thing about streaming. We’re not bound by those traditional DMA lines; we can really get down to what an advertiser is looking for,” Wnuk states. Madhive can target by zip, but one of the things that makes us unique is that we can target nationally, by state, by DMA, and we also have congressional districts set up in our system. We can target by zip code and even zip radius targeting. An advertiser or politician can type in an address and say, “You know what, I want everyone in a 10-mile radius,” and it’s quick, easy, seamless. You can forecast it, activate it, and then obviously deliver it.”
Trend #5: Youth voters, Hispanic audiences, and major ballot initiatives will also play a vital role
Reaching certain demographics is key to political advertisers’ strategies.
For example, youth voters will be crucial to the 2024 election, especially when there are such narrow margins. Although young people lean left, they’re less likely to vote. Given the liberal bent of younger voters, Democrats’ competition isn’t always Republicans — but political apathy or the lure of a third party.
2024 will also bring several highly-contested races in states with large Latino populations, including Arizona, Nevada, and Texas. As a result, Spanish-language ads are projected to increase 9% from last election cycle.
Aside from political ads promoting a certain candidate, there are major state-level ballot initiatives that political advertisers will focus on — covering issues ranging from marijuana legalization to property taxes.
In all of these instances, placing political ads on CTV allows advertisers to deliver big-screen messages with much greater precision than ever before.
Win more political ads with Madhive
The U.S. is gearing up for the 2024 elections — but are you?
CTV is the perfect complement to linear TV and will play a decisive role in reaching 2024 voters. Stay tuned for continued political advertising trends and insights as we march toward voting day.
To learn more about offering a competitive edge to your political advertisers through CTV, schedule a demo today.