Why CTV will be the channel to watch in the 2024 US elections

By Morgan Jetto
SVP & GM, Marketplace - Verve Group
March 12, 2024

The 2024 US election cycle will look unlike any that have come before it, right down to the ways that political advertisers will reach and influence voters. While past election seasons have been defined by new and deeper investments in mobile and social channels, 2024 is poised to be the year connected TV (CTV) reshapes the political landscape, particularly among regional advertisers.

The forces contributing to CTV’s ascendance in importance in the 2024 election cycle represent a unique blend of consumer behavior trends combined with larger digital ad industry shifts. For political advertisers looking to make the right investments this year, it’s vital to understand these trends before — not after — voters head to the polls this coming November.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the current state of CTV and why it’s going to be such a powerful force in political campaigns in 2024.

The viewership shift to streaming

While the steady migration of viewership from linear to streaming channels is not new, it’s particularly important for political marketers to acknowledge just how much the balance of power in TV has shifted in the past two — not to mention four — years. This power shift is represented not only in the rise of CTV viewership, but also the infrastructure available to support targeted advertising within the CTV space.

Back in July 2022, viewership on streaming services surpassed cable TV for the first time, accounting for 34.8% of daily TV viewing, versus 34.4% for cable and 21.6% for broadcast. Since then, streaming’s share of TV viewing has continued to grow, accounting for about 38% of all TV viewing today.

At the same time, the ability for marketers to tap into streaming audiences has become increasingly easier and more granular. That’s particularly important for political marketers looking to reach audiences at the household level, on both TV screens and mobile devices. Importantly, CTV also offers the power of contextual targeting, given the growing availability of program-level signals.

Election ad spend growth in 2024

CTV’s rise as an ad channel is happening amid a larger boom in political ad spending as well. US election and advocacy ad spend is expected to grow to $16 billion this year, up 31.2% since the last presidential election cycle, according to Axios. While overall spend growth is expected, it’s important to note that the digital channels available to capture that growth are shifting, particularly given 2024’s deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome and the related loss of targeting when it comes to traditional digital display advertising. For that reason, more spend is going to flow into alternate channels, including CTV, and be complemented by mobile.

Particularly with the risks of made-for-advertising (MFA) sites being well-acknowledged in the web environment, CTV presents a powerful and brand-suitable alternative to reach voters during primetime, as they would have within traditional channels. The calls-to-action that have driven performance in linear TV are effective within the CTV environment as well, helping to extend the reach of those tactics.

CTV is particularly attractive for political marketers because it represents an especially brand-safe play, while still enabling campaigns to target their ads to voters based on demographics as well as interests. For regional campaigns, these added microtargeting layers can help unlock significant efficiencies.

The demographics that sway elections

Speaking of microtargeting, let’s not forget the unique demographics unlocked by more significant spend in CTV. These days, nearly two out of three (63%) of US consumers aged 18 to 34 are daily CTV viewers, along with 58% of consumers aged 35 to 54, according to Statista.

That younger group of viewers are going to be particularly influential this election season, and they’re also the voters that are most difficult to reach via traditional channels. As a growing number of these voters opt out of targeting on their mobile devices and tune out on ads in their social feeds, CTV will be a prime channel for reaching this important demographic in the lead-up to elections.

Diversity of platforms

Finally, it’s important for political marketers in 2024 to acknowledge that streaming services—and the audiences unlocked through them — extend well beyond the YouTubes and Netflixes of the world. Consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to streaming, and these days 11.6% of all TV consumption (not just streaming TV, but all TV) is happening on streaming platforms other than YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video or Disney+. For political advertisers, that opens a plethora of opportunities for targeted connections with high-value audiences.

This time next year, our industry will be looking back on the marketing and advertising strategies that the 2024 winning campaigns employed to the greatest effect. Without a doubt, CTV will be topping the list of influential investments. Those that put this premium, highly targetable channel to work for their candidates and causes will be the ones that gain the edge needed in this highly competitive election season.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on ANA’S Marketing Knowledge Center.

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