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The Importance of OTT Marketing in an Election Year

The Importance of OTT Marketing in an Election Year

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

Once again, the United States faces a series of consequential political elections—along with all the tensions that an election cycle entails. The results of this year’s midterms will no doubt have an impact at every level of government. But for advertisers, the season leading up to the midterms may be just as consequential.

Specifically, an election cycle brings renewed attention to the importance of video marketing. And, with political campaigns churning out video content of their own, it presents advertisers with a unique set of challenges as well as opportunities.

How Elections Impact Digital Marketing

To begin with, what does a midterm election cycle have to do with digital marketing?

The answer is really pretty simple: With so many governorships and congressional seats on the line, both political parties (along with their Super PACs) are spending huge amounts of money in order to get their message out, to persuade voters in the middle, and to generate enthusiastic turnout among their bases.

A lot of this messaging is done in the form of TV advertising. If you live in a battleground state you’ve no doubt seen plenty of political ads on your TV screen already.

As political campaigns reserve huge ad buys on cable and broadcast TV, they consume much of the airtime that is available. What this means for smaller advertisers is a very high risk of pre-emptions. To put it another way, political campaigns are buying up much of the TV advertising inventory, and TV stations are bound by law to run political ads first provided the political advertiser pay the same as the lowest paying advertiser the station has contracted at the time. What this means is that there are less airtimes available, and the airtimes that are available will likely be pricier because larger advertisers will spend more to avoid preemptions.

For advertisers looking to get their message out over cable or broadcast TV, the cost could be pretty extravagant, and the possible loss of placement could sorely impact the desired reach and frequency. Smaller companies, in particular, may be priced out of TV advertising altogether. And yet, no company can afford to abandon the all-important video marketing field altogether, not with video providing such an essential way to get your message across to potential consumers.

Where does all of this leave advertisers struggling to have a voice in the crowded election-year marketplace?

Switching to OTT Advertising

One of our recommendations to clients is to shift some of their ad dollars to over the top, or OTT advertising. With broadcast and cable TV becoming increasingly crowded, OTT provides a much greater opportunity for companies to get their message across, without blowing their budget.

So what is OTT? Basically, it refers to any device you buy for your TV to make it “smart,” such as the Roku or Apple TV. These devices enable your TV to stream content from services like, Hulu, Prime Video, etc.

In recent years, OTT has seen substantial growth, with more and more “cord cutters” ditching cable and broadcast TV in favor of streaming services. Indeed, studies show that traditional pay-TV providers lost roughly six million subscribers per year in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

This suggests that OTT grants advertisers a fairly extensive audience. That’s true enough, though it’s important to make one caveat: Two of the most popular OTT platforms, Netflix and Disney+, don’t sell ad space to third-party advertisers. As such, the growth in streaming popularity isn’t quite equivalent to the growth in advertising opportunities.

Nevertheless, OTT remains a critical field for advertisers looking to get their video messaging across, without as much risk of preemption from political campaigns and PACs.

Our Approach

The first thing we tell our clients about OTT is that it’s best used in conjunction with other channels. Rather than creating video ads in a vacuum, your OTT tactics should be part of a larger, more holistic marketing strategy. That’s certainly something that the enCOMPASS team can assist you with.

As for specific ways to use OTT advertising, we often direct our clients toward precisely targeted campaigns while also including programmatic pre-roll and mid-roll advertising, augmented with YouTube advertising. (Note: While we consider YouTube to be separate from the OTT ecosystem, statistics show that many YouTube watchers do engage with the channel from their TV, via the use of an OTT device.) This approach gives your brand incredible reach while also allowing you to zero in on the specific consumers you want to reach, thereby using your advertising dollars as efficiently as possible.

While our video marketing recommendations can vary from client to client, depending on specific needs and objectives, our general guideline is to invest around twenty percent of your video budget in OTT, and to put the rest into a sound Online Video and YouTube strategy.

With this approach, we believe advertisers can cut through the noise of an election year and get their message in front of the qualified leads who matter most. We’d love to tell you more. To discuss OTT advertising in an election year, reach out to enCOMPASS Advertising Agency at any time.