Because TV is about reach and digital isn’t, it must clear a different bar: speed. Before political campaigns commit more to digital channels, they need to see faster results.
Matching custom audience segments to television via an addressable set-top box offer like D2, the recent partnership between DirecTV and Dish Network, can take a week or more, according to Drechsler.
He said this pace means it’s “hard to respond to political needs.”
Matthew Dybwad, TubeMogul’s head of politics and public affairs, said candidates and PACs are pushing ad tech vendors to up the pace to meet political timelines.
“For a typical (brand) campaign, there could easily be a seven-day window before you start to take an analytical look at campaign results,” said Dybwad. For a political campaign, news may flare up that makes targeting in a certain region or issue group particularly impactful, but then you’re left optimizing into a tomorrow where that relevancy is gone.
Spending on addressable TV ads, whether via OTT services or data marketplaces like Rentrak and D2, will rival addressable digital ads for political groups. Last October, it took up to four weeks for a campaign to execute an addressable TV buy. Now it takes a little over a week.
Borrell Associates predicted political spenders would pump a little more than $1 billion into digital advertising this election. Digital seems off pace to hit that mark, though experts from ad tech vendors and campaign teams all expect budgets, video especially, to come like a flash flood once persuasion becomes a campaign priority (as opposed to fundraising and email list-building).
It’s important to remember that political campaign budgeting goes beyond just TV and digital. HaystaqDNA also models data across phone banks, grassroots networks, direct mail, polling and other offline channels. Drechsler’s day-to-day work doesn’t involve thinking heavily about applying insights to digital video; he’s worried whether campaign volunteers and employees have been optimally deployed.
It’s easy to forget things like neighborhood signage and telemarketing get as much or more of the campaign budget as all of digital combined. Whether that fact remains a source of frustration or becomes a source of spending for the digital world, we may have to wait until 2020 to find out.