The Politics Of Programmatic Advertising [LIVE]

Eric Wilson
October 11, 2023
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The Politics Of Programmatic Advertising [LIVE]
October 11, 2023

The Politics Of Programmatic Advertising [LIVE]

If more and more members of the tech community decide to abandon the political market place, then you're abandoning the entire conversation the country continues to have every single election cycle. Except now it's happening without you."

We’re diving into the current state of affairs for political programmatic advertising. Where do major tech platforms stand in terms of their policies on campaign ads, what alternatives exist, and what can campaigners do to prepare for further disruptions?

Joining us to discuss this and more is Matt Hedberg, the COO of RepublicanAds.com – our sponsor for this episode. Republican Ads is the only self-service voter targeted digital advertising platform built for conservatives by conservatives. We interviewed co-founder Andy Yates during an earlier episode of the podcast – listen here.

Episode Transcript

The Impact of Tech Community's Abandonment of Political Marketplace

00:00:00 - 00:01:18

In this episode of the Business of Politics show, Eric Wilson, the managing Partner of Startup Caucus, discusses the current state of affairs for political programmatic advertising. He explores the policies of major tech platforms on campaign ads, alternative options available, and the preparations that campaigners can make for potential disruptions. Joining him is Matt Hedberg, the COO of Republicanads.com, who shares insights on their voter targeted digital advertising platform for conservatives. This episode was recorded in front of a live studio audience and offers valuable insights for those involved in professional politics.

The Impact of Tech Platforms Banning Political Advertising

00:01:18 - 00:10:06

Tech platforms like Microsoft, LinkedIn, and Twitter have been implementing bans on political advertising, which has become a common trend in the digital media buying space. This ban not only affects political campaign advertising but also public affairs advertising. The decision of these platforms to pull out entirely from political advertising creates challenges for advertisers who now have to find alternative partners. The policies of these platforms do not align with the solutions and challenges of political advertising, as there are examples from Meta and Google that show how verification and vetting can be implemented. The ban on political advertising can have significant consequences, such as limiting access to addressable audiences and pushing communication towards the fringes, which hinders discourse. Additionally, the decline of local news and the decrease in viewership of linear TV and radio further restrict the options for reaching and informing voters. Overall, the ban on political advertising by tech platforms has implications for campaign strategies, voter engagement, and the availability of reliable news sources.

The Impact of Tech Companies on Political Advertising and Voter Turnout

00:10:06 - 00:13:17

Tech companies' restrictions on political advertising have unintended consequences on voter turnout and civic participation. Privately funded campaigns are responsible for turning out voters, and limited advertising opportunities hinder their ability to reach and persuade voters. The shift to early voting further complicates the deployment of digital media dollars, as advertising efforts may be wasted on voters who have already cast their ballots. Banning political advertising is an easy solution but does not facilitate communication with voters. Instead, alternative paths should be explored, such as engaging in conversations, adjusting policies, and fostering a marketplace that includes tech companies. Abandoning the political marketplace limits the conversation and potentially allows bad actors to influence the space. It is crucial to find ways to continue delivering messages to voters and ensure their participation in the democratic process.

The Impact of Political Ad Bans on Legitimate Actors and Bad Actors

00:13:17 - 00:19:10

Political ad bans and restrictions on social media platforms have raised concerns about their impact on legitimate political actors and bad actors. Legitimate actors, such as political candidates, face challenges in reaching voters and making their case, while bad actors, like scam packs and foreign adversaries, may exploit loopholes to deliver negative messaging and disrupt elections. Banning political ads entirely is seen as too broad and ineffective. A balanced approach is needed to protect political speech, ensure accurate information for voters, and cooperate with platforms. Nuanced policies that treat legitimate political actors differently and ban certain types of speech outside of politics may be a better approach. Tech companies, like Microsoft, should also take responsibility in vetting political advertising. Political advertisers need to adapt to these changes and work with tech partners to find the best ways to reach voters. Companies like Republican Ads play a crucial role in managing the risks and complexities of political advertising.

Maximizing Campaign Capacity with Republican Ads

00:19:10 - 00:21:19

In this transcript, the speaker emphasizes the importance of campaigns building their own capacity and not relying solely on external platforms. They discuss the role of Republican Ads in helping conservative causes by providing technology and tools. The speaker also highlights the need for thorough vetting of digital vendors and the potential risks of platform changes. In case of political advertising being banned, Republican Ads assures alternative solutions. Overall, the transcript emphasizes the importance of campaign preparedness and adaptability in the ever-changing landscape of digital advertising.

The Role of Working with Multiple DSPs to Mitigate Risk in Political Advertising

00:21:19 - 00:23:40

In this transcript, the speaker discusses the importance of working with multiple demand side platforms (DSPs) to mitigate the risk of a single point of failure. They highlight the potential challenges of relying on a single DSP and the negative consequences it can have on media execution and client satisfaction. The speaker emphasizes the need for flexibility and diversification in digital media placement, comparing it to a retirement strategy where assets are spread to minimize risk. They also touch upon the concern of the walled garden effect from publishers, using Yahoo as an example. The summary concludes by highlighting the importance of finding supply side partners with unique inventory to avoid being left out if they decide to bring their inventory in-house.

The Future of Audience Targeting: Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies

00:23:40 - 00:28:48

As the death of third-party cookies looms, this transcript explores alternative audience targeting methods for political campaigns. The speaker discusses the challenges posed by the evolving privacy landscape, including Google's plans to ban cookies and Apple's restrictions on third-party cookies. Contextual targeting, logged-in publisher targeting, and geotargeting are identified as potential solutions. Geotargeting, in particular, is seen as a significant player in the ad tech ecosystem, offering the ability to target specific locations and adjust audience size according to privacy restrictions. The speaker emphasizes the importance of separating strategy from tactics, highlighting the need to reach voters where they are online. The transcript concludes by predicting that explicit user permission for targeting, similar to GDPR, will likely become the standard in the United States.

Improving CTV Audience Measurement: Challenges and Solutions

00:28:48 - 00:32:22

The current state of connected television (CTV) audience measurement is lacking in quality and plagued by fraudulent actors. Buying CTV inventory can be difficult, as unknown inventory and misleading placements are common. To address these issues, demand side platform partners can help by implementing inventory controls and checks. It is important for clients to see what placements their campaigns are running on, as trusting blindly is not advisable. Automated content recognition (ACR) can assist in measuring CTV, but it is only effective if the inventory is measurable. ACR data can be used to create niche audiences, but simply following competitors' strategies is not a winning approach. Republicanads.com offers more insights on this topic. Sharing this episode with others is encouraged to spread knowledge about the show. Subscribe to the Business of Politics show and sign up for their email list to stay updated on forthcoming events.

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Eric Wilson
Political Technologist
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Managing Partner of Startup Caucus