Programmatic Could be the Game-Changer in This Year’s UK Election


Nick ReidThe Commons is empty, party leaders have taken off their jackets, and babies everywhere are praying their parents won’t take them within kissing distance of Nigel Farage. It’s election time in the UK, and while the British parties don’t have anything like the huge budgets seen in the US, advertising is often the key to tipping the parliamentary balance. Here Nick Reid, UK Managing Director at TubeMogul, explains how programmatic video advertising could play a crucial role in determining the eventual outcome.

In 2008, pundits everywhere analysed the Obama presidential campaign and declared it the first ‘digital election’. Ever since then, experts have been trying to pin that title on to British campaigns.

Yet, the emergence – and prevalence – of programmatic ad buying offers the potential to be a game-changer on May 8th.

Today’s consumer – in this case the British voter – ingests media faster than ever before. And, with this election predicted to be the tightest in recent memory, every vote in battleground constituencies will count.

Before programmatic, campaign teams had to spray and pray. Print ads, TV campaigns and videos were general, encompassing numerous party messages that may or may not have engaged the audience viewing it. Today, we have the ability to target specific audiences on a hyper-local level.

Smart campaigns that use these five possibilities uniquely available through programmatic buying will be a step ahead in unlocking the doors of 10 Downing Street:

1. Always-on analysis

Programmatic video gives advertisers near-instantaneous analysis of campaign performance. If a video isn’t landing, it will be known – fast. Statistics such as whether a video ad is actually watched, whether it is being skipped and real-time survey metrics will give a good indication if messages are resonating. Party campaigners need to look at the numbers. And then test, test and re-test.

2. Be local

The ‘first past the post’ system means that some constituencies will be fought over more than others. To make budget stretch, ads will need to be as geographically targeted as possible. While some platforms may allow campaign advertisers to focus ads on specific cities, that’s not going to be effective if the battle is going on in just one of the five constituencies that make up that location. Campaigns need to drill buys down to a postcode or district level. Programmatic allows this type of buying on a hyper-targeted level more than any other marketing format.

3. Take advantage of surveys

Surveys don’t just have to be in the hands of the professional pollsters. TubeMogul’s BrandSights survey tool gives users the ability to measure awareness, message recall, favourability and voting intent. Parties should gather actionable insights and drive impact in real-time in order to help make smarter media buy decisions. In fact, TubeMogul used BrandSights during the Scottish referendum and successfully predicted the voter intent of numerous age, gender and socio-economic demographics.

4. Be personal

One of the earliest and most widely adopted benefits of automated buying is the ability to target very specific audiences using data. Political advertisers have a wealth of first party data (i.e. on campaign donors) and third-party audience segments (i.e. self-identified single mums) to custom-tailor ads to specific audiences. A campaign could, for instance, target an ad about “turning out the vote” to a party loyalist at the same time they are showing an ad about job creation to an undecided voter.

5. Speed counts

Remember the ‘bigoted woman’ scandal of 2010? Labour could have benefited with a rapid-fire response video discussing immigration to combat the campaign fallout after that gaffe.

Programmatic gives buyers the ability to flip campaigns on quickly and target them efficiently. If a story emerges that is considered a hot topic in specific regions (such as Scottish independence, the economy or immigration) then ad campaigns can be switched on targeting specific ages, genders and socio-economic groups in order to capitalise on or mitigate the news cycle.


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