How Connected TV is Redefining Political Ad Reach and Impact

Illustration of political ad on a TV screen

TV has always been the darling of political advertisers.

As recently as the 2022 US midterm elections, broadcast TV and cable TV/satellite advertising accounted for approximately two-thirds of all political advertising spending—and over-the-top (OTT)/connected TV (CTV) advertising represented around 15% of total political advertising spending.

Although 15% is quite a jump from just a few years ago, it’s still a low percentage given all the benefits political advertisers can reap from CTV.

  • Studies show consumers increasingly shifting towards streaming services, with 80% of US households now having at least one connected TV device.
  • Advertisers leveraging both linear TV and CTV have achieved a 32% increase in total reach compared to those using linear TV alone.
  • According to recent research, political advertisers believe incorporating CTV into their media mix will be crucial for reaching younger voters in upcoming elections.

In this article, we’ll go over the rising importance of CTV in the advertising mix, touching on cost-efficiency, targeting capabilities, and the need for cross-channel integration.

Targeting and Retargeting Capabilities of CTV vs Linear TV

CTV is shaking up the advertising game, offering pinpoint precision in how ads reach viewers, especially compared to traditional linear television. This is a big deal for political advertisers.

CTV targets ads to specific households using their IP addresses and device IDs. Advertisers can craft messages based on detailed demographic, psychographic, and behavioural data.

You can combine first-party data (like voter lists and donation histories) with third-party data to hone in on household-specific political profiles, increasing the accuracy of your targeting.

On the other hand, linear TV targeting is more about hitting broad geographic and basic demographic groups. You buy ad spots during programs that generally attract certain types of viewers, but it’s a bit of a guess.

This approach assumes all viewers of a show share similar traits or interests, which isn’t always the case, leading to possible misfires in reaching the right audience.

That said, linear TV still attracts huge audiences and holds a lot of sway, especially among folks who aren’t all that into digital. Keeping ads on linear TV means you’re not missing out on viewers who prefer traditional media. It’s a great way to keep your brand or message visible to a wide swath of the population, like older demographics who spend more time in front of the TV than online.

Regarding retargeting, CTV lets you follow up with viewers on other platforms. Suppose someone watches a political ad on CTV, but doesn’t act immediately. In that case, you can catch them later on social media or other sites they visit, reinforcing your message across multiple touchpoints. Unlike CTV, linear TV doesn’t offer an easy way to retarget viewers with digital ads based on their TV viewing (you can do it with StackAdapt, though). While you can try to sync TV ads with online campaigns, there’s no straightforward method to follow up directly.

Using both channels opens the opportunity to retarget linear TV viewers on CTV. For instance, you can:

  • Retarget users who have already seen your ad, amplifying your reach.
  • Exclude users who have seen your ad, adding incremental reach.
  • Target users who have seen a competitor’s ad (what is called conquesting).

Furthermore, with CTV you can customize ads for each household, considering local issues, demographic specifics, and viewing habits. This isn’t just smart; it’s effective because it boosts the relevance and impact of the ads.

CTV provides the flexibility to change targeting tactics mid-flight, allowing you to react to changing political conditions and update your strategy in real-time.

On linear TV, personalization is pretty much nonexistent. Every viewer sees the same ad, which misses the chance to address specific viewer interests or political views—and you can’t make any changes to your ads, since you’re locked from the start. 

However, this does not dismiss linear TV, which has worked so well for political ads over decades.

While CTV boasts laser-focused targeting and personalized ads, pairing it with linear TV can supercharge your advertising strategy. This combo maximizes the reach and impact of your political campaigning.

Imagine using linear TV for a broad brushstroke message about a political candidate, then following up with targeted CTV ads that address specific household concerns or political leanings. This one-two punch can make your message stick and drive engagement way up.

This approach ensures that your campaign hits all the right notes, from general awareness on linear TV to targeted persuasion on CTV.

Here’s a table comparing some key features of CTV and linear TV.

FeatureConnected TV (CTV)Linear TV
Targeting PrecisionTargets specific households using IP addresses and device IDs.Targets broader geographic areas and basic demographic groups.
Data IntegrationCombines first-party and third-party data for detailed profiling.Limited data integration, relies more on general viewer metrics.
PersonalizationHighly-personalized ads tailored to household specifics.Generic ads; same content is shown to all viewers of a program.
Retargeting CapabilitiesEnables retargeting on other digital channels based on CTV interaction.No direct retargeting capabilities; less integration with digital campaigns.
Ad CustomizationAds can be adjusted dynamically based on real-time data.Ads are fixed usually once placed, with little flexibility for adjustment.
Cost-EfficiencyMore cost-effective due to precise targeting and reduced ad waste.Potentially less cost-efficient due to broader targeting and wasted impressions.
Viewer EngagementHigher engagement likely due to ad relevance and customization.Lower engagement potential due to less relevance and personalization.

Advanced Analytics and Cross-Channel Measurement

When it comes to crunching numbers and tracking performance, CTV’s got the upper hand with advanced analytics and measurement tools that can really kick a political campaign into high gear. 

CTV can track which households watch what, when, and how they interact with ads. You can access this data fairly quickly.

On the other hand, linear TV sticks to more traditional metrics like ratings and reach, which tell you how many people watched a program, but not much about who they are or how they reacted to your ad.

CTV’s real-time analytics allow campaign teams to see performance as it happens and tweak ads quickly. This agility is invaluable in politics, where staying responsive to current events can make or break a campaign.

Although broader in its data capture, linear TV is still essential for understanding general viewer engagement and establishing a brand presence among a wide audience, including demographics less likely to be reached by digital means.

The ability to dynamically adjust strategies across platforms can lead to more effective campaigning. Suppose data from linear TV shows high engagement during certain programs. In that case, CTV ads can be synchronized to air following these programs, targeting the engaged viewers with more specific calls to action. This strategy optimizes ad spend and enhances message penetration and voter engagement.

Mixing in analytics from both CTV and linear TV also gives you a clearer picture of how your campaign is performing. You can track reach and frequency across both platforms to fine-tune where your money goes and ensure you’re hitting your campaign targets effectively without blowing your budget or missing your mark.

In short, while CTV is changing the game with advanced features, linear TV still holds a key spot in a well-rounded media strategy. Using both lets you leverage the broad audience of linear TV with the pinpoint accuracy of CTV, creating a dynamic, multi-channel strategy that resonates with a diverse audience and drives real results.

CTV offers several advanced tools and methodologies for measuring ad effectiveness and efficiency that take advantage of its digital nature. Here’s a breakdown of some key tools and methodologies used in CTV, along with the ROI metrics uniquely enhanced by this platform.

Tools and Methodologies for Measuring CTV Ads

Multi-Touch Attribution (MTA)Tracks the influence of specific ads on viewer behaviour across devices, attributing conversions to particular ads.
Lift MeasurementCompares behaviour between viewers exposed to ads and a control group, measuring the direct impact of ads.
View-Through Rate (VTR)Measures the percentage of ads watched to completion, indicating viewer engagement and ad relevancy.
Real-Time Performance DashboardsOffer real-time data on ad performance, enabling rapid adjustments to campaigns.

ROI Metrics Unique to or Enhanced by CTV

ROI MetricDescription
Incremental ReachMeasures additional viewers reached by CTV beyond those reachable via traditional TV, particularly cord-cutters.
Cost Per Completed View (CPCV)Focuses on the cost for each ad viewed to completion, offering a clear measure of spend versus engagement.
Brand LiftMeasures the impact of ads on brand-related metrics like awareness, perception, and purchase intent through controlled tests.

Measuring the Impact of Your Multi-Channel Political Campaigns

As a political advertiser, you already have linear TV assets. Why not reformat them for CTV (and online video), which are much cheaper and provide a similar “lean-back” viewing experience?

Adding programmatic advertising to your mix will allow you to access a large inventory of CTV spots and get your candidate’s message to a larger audience. The best part? You’ll get access to real-time data to measure the impact of your campaigns.

For instance, StackAdapt’s programmatic platform offers a feature called Incremental Reach Forecasting and Measurement. 

This tool is perfect for determining the extra audience you can tap into by mixing programmatic with your standard linear TV ads. It’s all about understanding which parts of your target audience you only catch through programmatic channels.

Incremental Reach Forecasting: Search your linear TV campaigns on the platform, and you can generate incremental reach forecasts on the fly. This is handy for planning your CTV campaigns and deciding how to split your budget between CTV and linear TV channels. And the best part? These forecasts are available instantly.

Incremental Reach Measurement: After you kick off your programmatic campaigns, you can measure the extra reach you’ve gained on top of your linear TV efforts, all within the StackAdapt platform. You’ll get reports within 24 hours, updated daily, that show you metrics like the proportion of reach and unique reach. This gives you a clear picture of how effectively you expand your audience reach with programmatic ads.

One major challenge you may face when using digital channels is budget allocation between linear TV and CTV. It’s critical to accurately calculate incremental audiences to prevent underspending and fully capture the potential reach. 

Effective forecasting across both channels is essential for grasping the total reach within crucial political districts, which helps more effectively plan the budget. 

This approach ensures you achieve your reach and frequency goals, and assess whether you can fully utilize your budget in smaller or more competitive markets. Additionally, assessing the incremental reach of digital audiences mid-campaign allows for necessary budget adjustments between linear and digital channels.

With incremental reach forecasts or reports, you can do it all—forecasting, campaign execution, and measurement—with StackAdapt.

Request a demo today to get started.

Diego Pineda
Diego Pineda

Editorial Content Manager, B2B


Diego creates thought leadership content and strategy for StackAdapt. He is the author of five novels, 10 non-fiction books, and hundreds of articles and blogs as a science writer, a business writer, and a sales and marketing writer.