Political Advertising Strategies

Political Advertising Strategies    

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


            In our previous blog article, we spoke about the massive amount of ad spending predicted for the 2020 elections.  Experts are guessing that more money will be spent on these campaigns than ever before.  This week, we take a look at the best strategies political marketers should and could be using to turn their dollars into votes. 



Though research shows that traditional advertising, like broadcast TV and radio, will still take the biggest piece of the cash pie, digital is really where it’s at these days.  Digital advertising is the fastest growing segment of political spending and the technology keeps getting better and better.  Given it’s easy access and speed, there are many low-cost ways to effectively reach voters.  Below are several tips that can be utilized by both small and large local and national campaigns. 

  • Data, data, data 

            It simply cannot be said enough; data is what will drive the most effective campaigns.  A data-based strategy equals a winning strategy. 


            Once you identify your target audience, you can use cross-device marketing to track voter habits and send out your ads across their multiple devices.  This is like when you see an ad for a product pop up on your phone after searching for it on your home computer.  


Geotargeting is an obvious tool to use when it comes to local campaigns.  And there are also now ways of targeting political ads based on psychological state, mood and how ad viewers react to content on an emotional level.  This is valuable information because by nature, politics and elections generally elicit strong emotions from the voting public.

  • Programmatic

            Political advertising runs on a ticking clock.  There is a finite deadline and this requires quick turnaround time, especially in the heat of the last few weeks leading up to Election Day.  Programmatic advertising is the perfect tool to achieve this kind of speedy mass exposure to targeted voters.  Programmatic was utilized to a great degree in 2016 and, due to its ever-evolving nature, is sure to be effective to an even higher degree in the 2020 elections and beyond.  

  • Hit early and often

            It was previously thought that campaigns needed to hit their “high note” immediately before Election Day.  But now, experts and political analysts seem to agree that you need to get your message out early and retain your voters’ attention.  Repetition is important and it’s not too early to start advertising.  As of September, $6 million had already been spent by Presidential candidates despite the election being more than a year away.        

  • Diversify video

            Political campaigns can no longer focus only on local and/or national TV spots.  Cable TV may be capable of more accurately targeting specific areas and voters, but VOD/OTT/CTV streaming services need to be embraced also.  This is essential to consider when thinking about how to reach younger voters especially, who may not consume much traditional media.  In addition, campaigns need to take advantage of video on social media platforms, which offers its easy access and connections to billions of people. 


  • Utilize audio, podcasts

            Podcasts and streaming audio are hot these days.  Using these channels allows yet another way to push your message out to younger voters, as well as older demographics too.  And it doesn’t have to end with just running your ads on these mediums.  A candidate could even take it a step further and start their own podcast!  It’s a great way to discuss your platforms and political issues and personally connect with the people.        


            Keep a close watch on your campaign marketing tactics to ensure they are running successfully as we head into the next election year.  Be aggressive in exploring all the new and evolving tools and resources to gain as much support as possible and get voters to the polls.  


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys, and a snuggly Golden Retriever.