"AdExchanger Politics" is a weekly column tracking developments in the 2016 political campaign cycle.
Today’s column is written by Theresa Mueller, director of political and advocacy at Rubicon Project.
The 2016 presidential election marks what is expected to be the largest digital election in history, but with the flood of more than 1 billion dollars in expected advertising comes new challenges for both campaigns and publishers.
Top-tier news outlets carefully safeguard their editorial integrity, exercising particular caution with political advertising that can veer into a tone or style of content that doesn’t align with their brand.
Many block the entire category of political ads on the open exchange, and others take oversight a step further by looking to control who the advertisers are – something not always possible on the open market.
This creates tension between the old world of advertising and the new world of voter engagement that is fueled by data and the power of automation to reach and engage voters with far more targeted and relevant messages.
Both sides of the ecosystem – the campaigns seeking access to voters and the publishers seeking to monetize their audiences while ensuring brand safety – are increasingly meeting in private marketplaces (PMPs) to achieve election cycle objectives. PMPs enable data targeting on the most premium inventory, using performance data from the exchange to shape premium content on the most successful publisher websites.
Allowing for greater access to top-tier inventory, PMPs elevate engagement, keeping advertisers in control of where and when their ads are served among the most desirable publishers.
This is a major opportunity but most political buyers are not paying attention. Inventory quality – a real and looming issue for many campaigns – can make or break a candidate, and buyers need to explore every arena possible to connect with their target voters.
PMP deals meld many benefits on the buyer side. Automatic workflows and strategic targeting further hone access to target markets and demographics.
PMPs’ invitation-only nature, meanwhile, increases quality control, demanding a thoughtful, creative and inoffensive tone to get past strict gatekeepers. This requisite attention to detail and perception encourages flexibility between ads destined for different demographics and the readership of varied publications, ensuring the most effective style for specific audiences, rather than one-size-fits-all content.
Even with publishers that field access to some of their inventory on the open market, many reserve their top spots for advertisers coming from the invitation-only side, meaning favorably regarded advertisers can access highly desirable home page takeovers, skins, coveted video inventory and other digital channels to make more of a visual impact.
Getting higher in publishers’ stacks in this way uses the PMP pipeline to edge out competing advertisers. Even if a particular publisher doesn’t block the political vertical, PMPs still offer a competitive advantage in prioritizing bids over those on the open market.
For campaigns looking to engage premium voter segments at scale this election season, private marketplaces offer access and availability in a highly competitive market.