Political Advertising in 2022: Why Precise Audience Targeting is Key to Campaign Success

05.19.2022 Adnan Mohamed5 min

As the 2022 election cycle is underway and the pressure to maintain control in DC is at an all-time high, the national Democratic and Republican Parties are dramatically increasing spending to amplify party messaging and gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

Both parties see the shocking losses statewide by Democratic campaigns in Virginia in 2021 as a shift in political winds, in which Democrats are now fighting to maintain power and Republicans to regain it.

For proof of that competitive spirit, look no further than campaign ad spending. The 2022 midterm election cycle is expected to drive more than $7.8 billion in expenditures across broadcast, cable, radio, digital and over-the-top (OTT) advertising—a significant jump over the last midterm cycle in 2018.

As political fundraising is already shattering historic records during this 2022 election cycle, political campaigns, Independent Expenditures, issue-based groups, political party committees, etc., are rethinking their ad strategy to seek out smarter, more cost-effective advertising opportunities that maximize audience engagement and, ultimately, reach as many voters as possible. In this endless quest to win over individual voters, it makes sense that audience targeting has risen to prominence as a cornerstone of successful political advertising.

Here’s a look at why enhanced audience targeting may be the difference-maker your campaign needs to connect with local voters this election cycle.

Political Ad Dollars are Shifting Toward Digital Channels

While local broadcast TV still earns the lion’s share of political advertising dollars, the 2022 election cycle is demonstrating an ever-increasing investment in local cable and digital ad inventories. Cable TV is projected to account for $1.4 billion of the total $7.8 billion in spending, while digital ads are slated to contribute $1.2 billion and CTV/OTT will represent $1.5 billion in political ad spending.

The percentage share of cable and digital continue to increase with each election cycle, illustrating the growing value political campaigns are finding in their digital investments. As targeting capabilities continue to improve through these channels, audience-based ad strategies should continue to gain a more prominent role in political advertising strategies.

Targeted Messaging Can Foster Deeper Engagement With Core Audiences

Targeted advertisements make it possible to engage different voter groups through tailored messaging that speaks to their political values and concerns. The voting public is a diverse group of people with many different political priorities and interests.

Speaking to all of those interests through sweeping broadcast advertisements may help strengthen your brand, but it doesn’t necessarily cultivate a sense of connection between your campaign and its intended constituents. Targeted messaging can help you develop different campaigns and messaging that speak to specific voter groups and/or emphasize specific campaign positions or promises that will resonate with voters as they choose which candidate to support in the upcoming election.

And while targeted messaging offers obvious value in reaching various voter groups deemed a top priority by your political campaign, this strategy can also be an effective method of reinforcing support among your existing voter base, including voters from the last election and/or voters already likely to support your campaign. By shoring up this voter base, campaigns can reinforce their existing support while still conducting outreach with new supporters.

New Social Media Restrictions May Force Strategic Shifts

For years, social media has been a relied-upon platform for targeting potential voters with political advertisements. But those targeted advertising options are dwindling fast: Twitter banned political ads in 2019, and Facebook announced earlier in 2022 by severely restricting how political advertisements could be targeted to users based on demographic and other relevant data.

With social media’s powerful targeting options now largely off the table, political campaigns must seek out alternative channels for targeting audiences to fulfill their digital advertising goals. Digital ad inventories available through cable TV and other digital ad platforms can help supplement the lost targeting capabilities of social media, rewarding political campaigns that migrate their targeting strategies to digital channels where audiences can still be precisely defined and engaged through advertising.

In cases where political campaigns were already heavily reliant on targeted social media ads, a proactive migration to other targeting opportunities can shield your campaign from suffering performance losses as a result of these new restrictions.

With short campaign windows and a tight deadline to win over voters, political campaigns face a slim margin for error in their digital advertising. Cox Media’s seasoned experts and proprietary advertising tools can help you target and connect with the right voter audiences at the right time, supporting your campaign throughout the election cycle.

Contact us today to learn how Cox Media can support your political campaign.

About the Author

Adnan Mohamed

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