2024 Political Campaigns: Beyond Programmatic for Maximum Reach

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While programmatic advertising (a process of buying digital ad space through real-time bidding and automation) has become a cornerstone for reaching voters, relying solely on this method — or any method — falls short of the maximum reach available to many campaigns. 

Embracing a multi-channel approach is essential to maximize the impact of paid media. In practice, this includes a mix of programmatic channels (such as Meta, Google Search, online banners, online video, and programmatic OTT) and other paid media approaches like email, texting, newspaper ads, and direct mail to create a comprehensive media strategy. For larger campaigns, this media mix can also include traditional channels such as radio and TV.

What is the value of programmatic?

There are many — which is why it is a key piece of an effective strategy. Programmatic advertising offers efficiency and scale, allowing campaigns to target specific demographics (such as 3 of 5 Democratic primary voters or newly registered voters) with precision. 

Let’s take a couple quick examples of the impact. On a platform-specific level, Meta, with its expansive reach across platforms like Facebook and Instagram, provides a unique opportunity to connect with voters on a personal level. The ability to target users based on interests, behaviors, and demographics allows campaigns to tailor messages. Leveraging Meta ads also ensures visibility among a larger user base, fostering community engagement and increasing the likelihood of information sharing.

Google Search enables campaigns to capture the attention of individuals actively seeking information. Voters frequently turn to search engines to gather insights about political candidates and issues. By strategically placing ads in search results, campaigns can influence the only narrative, providing voters with the information they seek while subtly steering the conversation in their favor.

Programmatic OTT/Connected TV programs allow advertisers to target an audience at the household level  combining the power of TV advertising with the hyper-targeting capabilities of digital. For example, a school board candidate could run a $1,000 OTT program that only reaches likely parent voters in their district — instead of targeting all TV viewers in their region and wasting ad dollars on households who won’t be able to vote for them because they’re outside of the district. 

What are the challenges?

However, programmatic also comes with inherent reach challenges. Not all voters are reachable through one place — for example, the voter who rarely checks Instagram, but spends much of their day available on email. Additionally, the phase out of third party tracking cookies has contributed to increasing match rate challenges when voters do not “match” from the list into the programmatic platforms, and thus don’t receive the ads.

If programmatic-only isn’t the solution — what is?

To break through the echo chambers and engage with a broader audience, political campaigns must diversify their advertising channels. While programmatic advertising is a powerful tool, it should not be the only focus of a paid media strategy. A comprehensive strategy that incorporates phone calls, emails, texting, direct mail, and collaboration with local online newspapers ensures a well-rounded approach, maximizing visibility, engagement, and ultimately, the impact of political messages. 

By diversifying channels, campaigns can counter platform-specific reach challenges, helping to create a surround-sound messaging strategy targeting their voters.

Want to learn more about our approach to multi-channel paid media placements and launch your campaign? We’d love to chat! Please feel free to send us an email at [email protected] or book a time to speak with us below:

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