Record US Election Spending in 2024 Will Generate New Innovations

Estimates for US political ad spending in 2024 are enormous and record-breaking. Experts forecast anywhere from $10 to $16 billion in total spend across channels, which would shatter the record created during the last election cycle.

There are a number of reasons for the high forecasts. First, inflation and market competition have increased the cost of ad spending. Certain popular channels like CTV have heavy demand and command high prices. Second, the competition between the Democrats and Republicans is fierce, and they’ll be spending big to reach undecided voters and solidify their bases. Third, spending is not limited to the presidential race. Regional and local political races will also take advantage of advertising channels, using targeting to fine-tune messaging for key audiences.

Advertising technology has an interesting relationship with political cycles. Famously, Barack Obama’s campaign used social media, at the time an emerging platform. They were able to reach their audiences with more personalized, targeted content on a channel that many audiences were just starting to embrace. This created a major advantage.

In 2020, digital advertising grew in importance, accounting for nearly a quarter of total spend. Much of that spend was highly targeted, relying on third party cookies to reach key audiences.

This year promises to deliver even more change. While third-party cookie targeting is decreasing, advertisers have many other opportunities to reach their audiences. It’s likely that political advertisers will take emerging technologies and use them for creative campaigns.  AI has advanced contextual advertising, for example. AI-based contextual advertising can “read” the content on a page to recognize different nuances in content, such as positive or negative sentiment. Commerce-based advertising can help political advertisers raise money much more seamlessly. Audiences can donate with the tap of their finger on social media and more.

Political advertisers will also find themselves with a different channel mix than in 2020. CTV is rapidly replacing broadcast media, which was their top spending category in 2020. Today, political advertisers are looking at a wider array of social media platforms (it looks like Joe Biden will embrace TikTok with others sure to follow) and generative AI influencing search results. All of these shifts will require smart strategies, testing and fine tuning.

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