Brand Strategy

3 political marketing trends that will define the 2024 election

According to marketers, AI, reproductive rights, and CTV ads are going to take center stage.
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Francis Scialabba

5 min read

With the Iowa caucuses around the corner, the 2024 US presidential election is ratcheting up fast as Republican candidates jostling for their party’s nomination pour money into political advertising.

This year's election cycle is already projected to see the highest political ad spend of all time, and new data from ad intelligence firm Vivvix’s CMAG division found that $154 million had been pumped into 2024 US presidential election ads before the new year even began.

We talked to people from two political advertising firms, DSPolitical and Blue State, as well as the VP of political sales at LG’s Ad Solutions division, to learn more about the trends in political advertising that may define the impending elections. There were three big takeaways.

AI is going to transform political marketing in more ways than one.

Keith E. Norman, VP of political practice sales at LG Ad Solutions: Let’s say a political candidate wants to test whether a message on energy, or a message on women’s reproductive rights, or a message on the economy may be more effective when they want to talk about their platform and talk about their issues to voters. I could see using AI to create very quickly three different ads that could be tested in a limited [way], not for broadcast or not for streaming [capacity,] but just to see again which one of those ads would be more impactful.

Mark Jablonowski, president and CTO of DSPolitical: I think you’re going to see a lot of organic potential disinformation coming from generative AI. It’s less of a concern on the paid media side. It’s great the platforms are requiring disclosure of generative AI in paid advertising, but a lot of the concerns are going to come around, ‘How are you able to verify this organic clip that is going viral is actually real?’ That’s going to put campaigns in a tough spot.

Reproductive rights are going to be a major theme in 2024 election ads.

Thom Josephson, media director at Blue State: No. 1 is abortion and women’s reproductive rights. We are in a post-Roe world, and I don’t think anyone is going to be dancing around that. I think it’s an issue that Democrats are really strong on and have been really strong on. I think it’s a place that Republicans are either holding absolutely heinous views and perspectives, or too ashamed to talk about their heinous views and perspectives to run a single ad on it. I think that is probably going to be the No. 1 thing that speaks to a lot of really valuable demos, including women and younger people generally, and I think the Republican party is wildly out of step on that.

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Jablonowski: For Democrats, choice is the biggest driving force and we saw this with a lot of the elections in 2023. When you had Roe v. Wade being overturned, you really fired up a huge base on the Democratic side. Republican candidates are going to be especially vulnerable to choice messaging. We’re seeing that time and time again across the country, so I would expect to see a lot more messaging around a woman’s right to choose.

CTV ads are gaining popularity, but don’t count out linear TV yet.

Josephson: What we’ve seen over the past few cycles and over the past few years generally is a relative decline in linear television and broadcast television. It’s still very popular; people are still advertising and pouring millions of dollars [into it]. I think it’s going to probably be the largest component of advertising in 2024, but CTV is growing at a rapid clip. More and more platforms are available, more and more of them are including ads as an optional tier. Netflix, for instance, added an ad tier. A few other platforms have recently expanded that ad tier or otherwise raised prices on the non-ad-supported tiers. The other thing working for ads here is bundling, where you include a few different combinations, like Disney+, Hulu, etc., but you include them with ads. It effectively increases that band of people who are targetable, and I think that advertisers—and political advertisers especially—are recognizing that they’re beginning to use CTV as one of their main targeting channels to reach pretty much every audience.

Norman: Almost nine out of 10 [voters] are watching streaming TV with others. There’s a high propensity for co-viewing. If you’re a political marketer, you can reach two voters for the price of one ad or three voters even.

Jablonowski: CTV advertising is one of the most important vehicles for campaigns to talk to their voters because, with broadcast, you really have limited ways that you are able to get in front of only the voters that you need to. Just looking at some of the elections, like in Virginia, for their state elections in 2023, you have candidates that are having to buy broadcast ads…Some campaigns are going to continue to make sure that they’re blanketing their voters in the ways that they’ve done for a long time, and other campaigns will continue to move toward the most efficient vehicles out there.

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