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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Are Dems Ready for 2024 Political Ad Wars?

You should not be shocked to learn that “The advertising dollars spent on U.S. elections and advocacy issues will grow to roughly $16 billion next year, up 31.2% compared to the last presidential election in 2020, according to a new forecast” by  GroupM, one of the world’s largest paid advertising agencies, Sara Fischer reports at Axios.

OK, ad expenditures up nearly a third from the last presidential election is a pretty big hike, but not a huge shock, considering inflation and the persistence of political polarization.

Every American who looks at images on a screen, either on TV, the internet and even cell phones, should expect an historically-unprecedented deluge of political ads. Oh, and print is not quite dead yet, so there will be more political ads in your mailbox.

Fischer notes further that “A majority of political advertising spend in the U.S. goes to local broadcast TV, but an increasing amount is moving toward digital channels.”  Further, “One of the fastest-growing segments is Connected TV (CTV) advertising, or video ads that run on digital TV sets connected to the internet. They offer campaigns the ability to target their ads more narrowly to voters with certain interests, instead of just age and gender demographics.”

Democrats should hope that the party’s ad gurus are on top of the trend toward Connected TV advertising, so they can better target key constituencies with appropriate ads. And let’s hope that Dems are already busy placing their ads in the most important swing county markets, like Erie County, Pa, as I noted on January 1. And would it be too much to ask that Democrats at least try to reduce the tremendous advantage they have ceded to Republicans on the nation’s radio networks, which penetrate into rural areas?

Of course, it’s not just about ads. Democratic campaigns must improve their game in terms of getting more “earned” media coverage. It’s a tough challenge when the other side has all the bomb throwers. But, as infrastructure projects  enacted by Democrats kick in during the next year, let no Republican who voted against them escape unscathed, especially those who have the temerity to show up for the ribbon-cutting.

The thing to keep in mind about political ads is that they are important for both persuasion and boosting turnout. If we have learned anything about “low information” voters in recent years, it is that there is a lot of room for improved outreach to them. The stakes couldn’t be much higher for both Democrats, and for the future of democracy in the U.S.

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