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OTT Advertising Will Be A Clear Winner In The 2020 Elections

Television commercials are powerful. They create a meaningful emotional connection that sticks with the viewer — sometimes for many years. They can make candidates appear to be more human, powerful, or knowledgable, and give them a degree of gravitas that other mediums just can’t match. With cord cutting becoming a broad trend over the past several years, and with more ad-supported streaming services like Disney+ on the cusp of launching, more potential voters than ever before will be getting ads served to them through OTT.

OTT TV advertising is going to play a major role in the 2020 elections — regardless of party or issue. From precision targeting, to versioning and frequency management, OTT will allow candidates to not only get incremental reach by touching voters they would otherwise have missed with linear-only campaigns, but also will give them tools previously only available in more traditional digital advertising mediums, like display, that deliver high impact results.

Reaching Cord Cutters & Cord Nevers

The idea of cord-cutters and cord-nevers is nothing new. But the quantity of ad-supported OTT programming is growing rapidly. The OTT ad market beat expectations in 2018, growing to nearly $2.7 billion with a 54% year over year growth rate — and is expected to surge to over $5 billion by 2020. In other words, it’s supposed to almost double in the next 18 months.

More people watching ad-supported OTT programming, and according to a recent report from IPG’s Magna Global, they have a 3.8 times higher retention rate for ads shown via streaming services. The study found that not only are OTT ad messages retained better, but they also create more emotionally engaging experiences — especially for younger audiences.

By leveraging OTT as part of their media mix, campaigns can not only reach those viewers who are no longer watching linear TV, but they can also find serious cost efficiencies doing it. Research has shown that estimated CPMs for a primetime linear TV spot hover around $50, while OTT CPMs typically cost less than half on acreage.

The Value of Targeting

Cost effective reach to incremental audiences is valuable, but add to that the ability to target specific audiences, and OTT advertising becomes not only incremental, but also incredibly effective. Potential voters can be precision targeted by not only geography (the easiest option) and demographics, but also by any number of characteristics which researchers have determined may make them more or less inclined to vote for certain candidates or support certain issues.

On linear TV, targeting is driven by GRPs that are based less than 1% of the whole TV viewing audience. Unlike linear, targeting data on OTT is incredibly robust. Technology like Inscape, with data from over 11 million smart TVs nationwide, delivers granular information at scale about actual viewing trends. Combined with demographic and psychographic data, ads can now be targeted and served to highly specific audiences on an impression by impression basis.

Campaigns invest incredible amounts of time and money in understanding exactly what types of people are inclined to be moved by their message. Leveraging their research in conjunction with the available data for OTT, campaigns can target precisely, truly making every impression count. They can then take it further, creating look-a-like audiences, expanding their reach.

Frequency Capping

Another advantage of OTT platforms is the ability to ensure that viewers aren’t over- or under-exposed to ads. And when we stop looking at TV as a silo and start looking at the world of ads that the viewer is exposed to, the idea of frequency management becomes even more valuable. Did a viewer just see the same ad ten times because they were binge watching a show? Did they just spend time on YouTube or another online video site where the same ad might be playing? Or are their viewing habits atypical for their age and demo, and therefore may not been exposed to any ads best suited to their interests?

OTT technology enables us to take a viewer’s holistic behavior into account — not just a single channel or program. With visibility into broad viewing habits, campaigns can make truly informed decisions to drive impact.


Another advantage to targeted advertising on OTT is that it can show different messages to different targets. So while one group might see ads that highlight a candidate’s positions on the environment, another might see ads that highlight their position on health care. This can be especially valuable when used to supplement the candidate’s main messaging — targeted ads on OTT can appeal to specific “issue-oriented” voters while broader ads on linear can reach more mainstream voters.

As the 2020 elections ramp up, we can expect to see more political advertising than ever before. Thanks to OTT’s rapid growth and better targeting capabilities, candidates of all stripes will be able to get a better return on their ad dollars from “TV”.

And that’s a win for everyone — candidates and voters.