2020 Election Spend Surges: Who’ll Win The Race for Ad Dollars?

October 8, 2019

With Election Day about a year away, a significant windfall in political advertising dollars is expected, with industry analysts forecasting a record amount being spent by candidates. Kantar Media CMAG group estimates the political ads for the 2020 election could reach $6 billion. Group M, a prominent ad agency, estimates spending for political ads will reach $10 billion, an increase of 59% from the 2016 election year when an estimated $6.3 billion was spent. 

No matter where the final number falls, one thing is certain: there is plenty of marketing dollars to go around. If you’ve been hoping to capture some of the revenue coming out of these campaigns, keep reading.

In a special report, our team of research analysts have detailed the 2020 presidential candidates, highlighting who controls the purse strings and how much they are spending. 

Not surprisingly, the biggest gains in the 2020 campaigns are expected to go to digital media, which will nearly double to $1.2 billion in 2020 from $650 million in 2016.  Digital marketing has changed everything about presidential campaigns, creating opportunities to reach voters in ways that were never possible before. 

Below is a sample of the type of intelligence we cover in our Campaign 2020: The Race for Ad Dollars, including digital spend by candidate, top networks and purchase channels. 

Candidate Party Digital Display Spend Purchase Channels Top Networks Top Sites
Trump, Donald R (Inc.)$7.9MProgrammatic (69%), Video (24%), Direct (7%)Google, Direct, YouTube, Google, Nativeyoutube.com
the federalistpapers.org
Warren, ElizabethD$462KDirect (50%), Programmatic (36%), Native (13%), Video (1%)Direct, Google, Outbrain motherjones.com
O'Rourke, Beto D$230KProgrammatic (85%), Direct (11%), Video (4%)Google, Direct, YouTuberawstory.com
Biden, Joe D$44.3KNative (80%), Programmatic (20%)Outbrain, Google cnn.com

To see spend detail across all presidential candidates, download the full report today. 

Spend Breakdown 

Political spending in 2018 accounted for $2 billion, or 2% of total digital ad spending in the U.S., according to the GroupM report. In 2020, digital political ad spending is projected to increase to about $2.8 billion, or 2.2% of total digital ad spending. 

It appears that digital is now surfacing as a dominant force, a distinction that some candidates are beginning to realize. It pays to go with what’s proven, hence the significant digital spend noted above for the top 5 campaigns. Of the $6 billion in political spending this cycle, Kantar expects 20%, or $1.2 billion, to go to digital. 

Politicians are also getting savvy in the programmatic space, with some even hiring ad-tech specialists to manage their online marketing campaigns, according to sources. This move could mark a significant cultural shift in the way campaigns unfold. 

Digital Marketing Election Impact 

Dollars behind digital advertising are giving presidential candidates the ability to build support through direct access to voters, improved analytics and personalized messaging, just to name a few advances. 

The digital strategies employed in campaigns allow more direct interaction with voters through channels such as SEO, pay per click, blogging and more. This allows candidates to ensure messaging is exactly what they want it to be, and also gives them to interact with voters online through answering questions directly and making comments. 

With direct access and the ability to customize messaging instantly, presidential candidates now have the luxury of personalizing the content they send out. As these efforts are made throughout the race, digital marketing also provides actionable analytics in order to judge the success of any campaign. 

Analytics makes it possible to see what’s working and make shifts quickly and implement different strategies that will lead to more success in the campaign. With an extended reach and the agility of digital, it’s no shock digital efforts are ramping up for the 2020 election, gearing toward earning the individual vote. 

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