Political advertisers are utilizing out-of-home (OOH) media like never before. In fact, OOH political ad spend jumped 113% in Q1 2022 over Q1 2021 and 90% over the last midterm election cycle in Q1 2018. Plus, almost ninety percent (88%) of all OOH political ad spend is from local and state campaigns, making the channel the perfect fit for midterm campaigns that are decided by incremental gains among local voters.
OOH spend is generally increasing as advertisers embrace a post-pandemic playbook, pairing digital spend with real-world media to drive shoppers in-store and capture their attention while they’re on the go.
When it comes to politics, advertisers are embracing OOH because the channel allows them to speak to voters’ local concerns via location-based targeting, it complements other channels such as social and TV, and OOH media is a strong mass media with enormous reach potential.
All politics is local
We are living in the age of hyper-targeted advertising. In business, this can often lead to advertisers focusing too much on targeting customers who are already likely to buy their products, driving easy conversions that do not lead to incremental revenue. Politics could face the same issue. For example, if a political candidate’s campaign were to target Facebook users who already support the candidate’s platform, it might see very high click-through rates but do little to move the needle.
OOH is well suited to help political advertisers match campaign messaging and creative to the location of audiences instead of their existing political affiliations. By targeting both location and audience instead of interests revealed by search and social user data, OOH advertisers can reach the swing voters whose ballots decide elections and speak to local issues that matter to all voters regardless of their level of interest in politics or partisan beliefs or participation in social media at all.
Data on the audiences OOH campaigns are reaching in top US designated market areas speaks to the channel’s ability to connect with middle-of-the-road voters. OOH campaigns are generating more than 400 million weekly impressions in LA among Republican-leaning independent voters and 700 million among Democrat-leaning independents. Independents are also seeing OOH ads hundreds of millions of times per week in Atlanta, Phoenix, Chicago, and Las Vegas. For political advertisers, this represents an opportunity to grab swing voter attention by focusing not only on partisan issues but also on location-based messages that cut across the political spectrum.
OOH complements other channels
OOH also works in tandem with other channels so that, together, these channels are stronger than either is in isolation. For example, political advertisers might target a party-leaning independent on social or CTV and then reinforce that message by buying OOH inventory that over-indexes for reaching this audience during and along their typical daily routine.
By pairing more partisan messaging on traditional digital channels and more local, broadly appealing themes via OOH, advertisers are able to weave together a complete story across multiple channels by capitalizing on the strength of each. Campaign strategists can flesh out their pitch and forge bonds with voters who will better recall their candidate due to multiple exposures and associate them with both partisan and special interest issues.
OOH also allows advertisers to grab voters’ attention in less cluttered environments, boosting the chance that the voter will recognize the candidate’s name and stop scrolling the next time an ad pops up on mobile. The powerful visual format of a massive billboard or bus poster establishes awareness so that digital channels can better earn clicks further down the funnel.
The benefit of a one-to-many medium
Historically, political advertising has relied on broad attempts at targeting as advertisers courted, say, viewers of certain TV programs. With the advent of digital advertising, politics adopted hyper-targeting, also known as 1:1 targeting, attempting to match messages to the preferences of individual voters. However, this progression has led to controversies as political campaigns face criticism for exploiting private information in ways some voters are unaware of or don’t understand.
As a one-to-many mass media channel, OOH, and especially digital out-of-home (DOOH), campaigns can be confident that they are reaching a wide, relevant audience while not compromising privacy standards. However, advertisers can still narrow the appeal of creative to specific audiences based on the demographics, interests, and issues relevant to a specific district, neighborhood, or ZIP code. And with DOOH, they can become even more dynamic, shifting creative quickly to adapt to changing news events and times of day.
OOH combines the strengths of traditional and digital advertising. It brings together the storytelling power and attention-grabbing presence of a massive billboard with the targeting and dynamic delivery of digital screens. In addition, OOH is also one of the most trusted media channels from the perspective of the audience. Political advertisers understand this power, which is why OOH has earned their votes this election season.