Political Campaigns Embracing Streaming TV

Streaming TV is a digital version of traditional linear (cable/tvnetwork media. Same content, same screen size, but with the ability to apply the benefits of programmatic ad buying. What that means is we can do more than just the sort of standard “Adults 25 to 54”, targeting that you get on linear.

With streaming, we can now get very specific with our targeting. We can look for Republican leaning swing voters, or target Congressional districts from a geo perspective rather than from a zip code perspective. So essentially, it’s given us the ability to provide digital style targeting on television screens, which is something political campaigns were never able to access at scale before.

It’s always helpful to start with definitions.
In this case, “streaming” refers to any and all television programming that is delivered via the open internet. In the US, most (around 80 percent) streaming TV is watched on an actual television set, with desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones making up the remaining 20 percent.
Ad-supported streaming, on subscription (SVOD) or free (FAST) services makes up an increasingly large share of the streaming universe and it is that sector that we will be
focusing on in this report. FAST is an acronym that stands for free ad-supported streaming TV services. Essentially, this is streaming live TV without the subscription

We do have a dedicated team for political advertising. We sort of have to, because it is very common for us to get a call saying “I need this to go live right now and run for three days and clear X amount of dollars,” and it’s critical that we have people in place who can help support, troubleshoot, answer questions. We have engineers, product, client success, and revenue strategy, and we’re all working together to provide guidance to political campaigns.

Overfrequency happens when an agency goes and partners with 15 different vendors, and they’re all using different technologies to run media in the same area. That’s a real challenge with political advertising because they often want to blitz an area over a short period. What happens is they will get a certain sum of money that they need to spend in just two or three days—usually right before the election. So they’re not all that interested in effective household targeting. That said, overfrequency can result in negative impressions, so we have tools that can help clients guard against that.

We’re seeing predictions that political ad spend on streaming is going to be up this year versus 2020, close to $10 billion. Where is that money coming from: digital, linear or both?

It’s from both. Prior to streaming TV being a thing, there was online video. And those budgets were pretty healthy. But as streaming TV started to grow, those budgets started shifting over very quickly to take advantage of the premium linear content as well as the TV screen as a device you can now target.

With digital, people are looking at Facebook and other platforms and evaluating who they are really reaching there, wondering what their position on political advertising is going to be, given everything that happened in 2020 and whether it’s the best place to plant their flag. So we’re seeing campaigns shifting money to streaming from digital too.

Money is also being shifted from linear, especially now that the big media companies all have their own streaming services. So say you are planning your buys and you are talking to your local TV sales rep. They are going to try and upsell you on local streaming because combining it all makes sense—viewership is shifting and you want to get all the reach you can.

2022 is a midterm election year, with Senate, House and other down ballot races in play. That means an estimated $8 billion in political ad spend will be in play, most of it local, with a full 15 percent going to streaming.

Streaming has already started to steal budget from both linear and digital and is making a major splash in the 2022 midterms. 2024, when the presidential election all but guarantees that spending levels will be even higher, should send streaming budgets even higher too.
The 2022 Midterm Elections:
Streaming Becomes A Factor – With control of both the House and the Senate at stake, many observers predict that 2022 political ad spending will rival and possibly surpass 2020, a rare feat for a midterm election. A recent report by Kantar/CMAG predicted that spending for the 2022 midterm election would reach $7.8 billion, with streaming accounting for $1.2 billion or 15% of all money spent.
Kantar/CMAG also forecast significant spending in other media as well:
• Broadcast TV: $3.8 billion or 49% of total spend (vs. $3.05b in 2018)
• Cable TV/Satellite: $1.4 billion or 18% of total spend (vs. $1.2b in 2018)
• Digital (FB/Google): $1.2billion or 15% of total spend (vs. $900m in 2018)
• Radio: $215 million or 0.3% of total spend.

One reason local broadcast dollars are so high is because the midterm elections are all regional and so House, Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative candidates are all buying local media, with the more forward thinking candidates (at least from a media perspective) putting a good percentage of their dollars into streaming as well.