Could Local Advertisers be the Biggest Winners of the Midterm Elections?

2014 midterm elections USAThe following is an exclusive guest contributed post shared with MMW by Andy Monfried, CEO of Lotame.

Much has been written about the migration of political ad spend to digital channels. The significance of this trend can’t be overstated. Politics and advocacy are two sectors that were among the most rooted in the ‘traditional’ way of doing things. Dollars flowed to national and regional TV, with digital an afterthought at best. All that has changed dramatically over recent election cycles.

We’ve seen political campaigns really push the boundaries of what’s possible with digital advertising at both a national and local level. Dynamic and real-time creative, hyper-local audience targeting, and smart use of device graph technologies to engage voters across screens, are among the tactics being leveraged by forward thinking political advertisers. In many cases, the innovations we’re seeing at a local political level are outpacing the strategies of national brands with far greater marketing resources.

One example from the 2014 midterm elections is from Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.). With a digital strategy led by Targeted Victory, Coffman’s campaign took advantage of a self-service programmatic audience based television advertising platform to accelerate media buying capabilities and reach the right voters on a granular level across all screens.

This rapid pace of transformation from traditional to progressive advertising is made even more remarkable when you consider that digital campaigns in the political and advocacy sectors are executed in such a harsh and unforgiving spotlight. Political ads being poorly targeted or turning up alongside questionable content can be seized upon by opposing candidates and used as a lever to sway voter sentiment.

So, what do these trends in political advertising mean for the broader advertising ecosystem? For local advertisers, the answer is – a lot. Local advertisers face all the same challenges that political and advocacy campaigns do: tight geographical constraints, limited budgets that need to be executed effectively across screens, and a need for constantly updated creative that leverages real-time messaging.

While these challenges may have seemed insurmountable to local advertisers just a few short years ago, technology platforms and the accessibility of audience data have changed the rules of engagement. What’s interesting is that much of the innovation we’ve seen within local advertising has been incubated within the political space. Specialist political shops like Targeted Victory have developed platforms designed specifically to execute local cross-screen buys extending all the way to television. Local advertisers need to sit up and take notice. Just as politics shifted its mindset from traditional to progressive advertising, it’s time for more local advertisers to do the same.

Political ideologies aside, recent elections have proved that smart data-driven strategies can help solve digital’s local advertising problem. Locally executed political advertising is leading the way when it comes to minimizing wasted impressions, maximizing budgets, and driving performance across screens. To that end, with the midterms behind us, maybe local advertisers should be turning to political shops and technology platforms to take their digital campaigns to the next level. It’s a potential win-win for agency and marketer alike and one that could continue to lift the tide for local advertising.