Digital Ads for 2020 U.S. Elections Focused on Programmatic, CTV and Last-Minute Impressions

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Centro , a global provider of advertising technology, announced 2020 U.S. Elections research showing how political campaigns increased investments in CTV advertising, which represented 19% of their programmatic budgets. This was a 280% increase in CTV’s programmatic advertising share from the 2018 U.S. midterm election cycle. The data was compiled from more than 400 advertisers for state, local and national races managing digital ad buying via Centro’s platform, Basis. These political and advocacy advertisers encompassed more than $100 million spent across display, video, native, search and social media.

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The report illustrates U.S. Elections digital strategies on:

  • Connected TV and video: Video is the overwhelming favorite (71%) of all ad formats based on spending share – driven by CTV growth as well as the higher cost of video inventory (compared to display, etc.).
  • Programmatic: Automated buying though demand-side platforms (DSPs) was the most popular channel for 2020 campaigns at 63% share of budgets (up from 60% in 2018).
  • Direct ad buying: The top three direct sellers were Facebook, Hulu and YouTube (in that order); new to the top 15 (that weren’t on the list in 2018) were TEGNA, Ampersand, Roku and Samba.
  • Timing: Campaigns spent 55% of digital ad budgets in the last 30 days before Election Day, and 25% in the last 10 days. In the day before and the day of Election Day, $4.25 million was spent.
  • Runoffs: December spending spike from the Georgia runoff amounted to an additional 10% of the total January through November 3, 2020 election spend.

“CTV has been a revelation for political marketers, combining the big-screen impact of TV with the agility and targeting of digital. Traditional TV buyers are including CTV on their plans because there are audiences of voters not reachable through linear TV,” said Grace Briscoe, SVP of Candidates and Causes, Centro. “The 2020 Elections proved out many of the digital strategies that were being previewed in 2018. Despite a frenetic election cycle where campaigns had to navigate factors such as shifting tech platform policies, unprecedented early voting, and a pandemic, the most successful campaigns are capitalizing on emerging technologies that overcome the hurdles of this environment.”

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Centro’s technology and services have been trusted by agencies and consultants in politics, public affairs, and advocacy since 2008. Centro’s Candidates and Causes division has helped power digital media for 1500+ political campaigns and independent expenditure committees, and 2000+ issue advocacy advertisers. Its proficiency for driving perception in government, in the public sphere, and among specific audiences, is a differentiated and valuable asset in this field.

Basis, Centro’s flagship technology for marketers, is the industry’s most comprehensive, automated, and intelligent digital media platform, and the only software solution of its kind to consolidate digital operations across programmatic, direct, connected TV (CTV), search, and social campaigns.

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